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Translated by 

With an Introduction by 

Professor of Philosophy 
University of Toronto 


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First Edition, February, 1951 
Reprinted, August, 1954 

3 yf 


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Anderson, F. H., The Argument of Plato. London, 1934, pp. 114- 
21, 186-90. 

Archer-Hind, R.D., The Phaedo of Plato. London, 1883. 
Burnet, J., Greek Philosophy, Part I. Oxford, 1913, Chapters IX-X 
Plato's Phaedo. Oxford, 1911. 

Church, F. J., The Trial and Death of Socrates. London, 1923, 
pp. ix-lxxxix. 

Fraser, J. G., The Growth of Plato's Ideal Theory. London, 1930, 
pp. 54-71. 

Gaye, R. K., The Platonic Conception of Immortality and Its 

Connection with the Theory of Ideas. London, 1904. 
Geddes, W. D., The Phaedo of Plato. London, 1885. 
Grote, G, Plato and the Other Companions of Socrates. London 

1867, Vol. II, pp. 152-205. 
Priim, E., Der Phaidon uber Wesen und Bestimmung des Men- 

schen. Archiv. f. Gesch. d. Philos., XXI, 1908, pp. 30-49. 
Shorey, P., What Plato Said. Chicago, 1933, pp. 169-84, 523-37. 
Stewart, J. A., The Myths of Plato. London, 1905, pp. 77-111. 
Taylor, A. E., Plato the Man and His Work. New York, 1936, 

pp. 174-208. 

Williamson, H., The Phaedo of Plato. London, 1904. 


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Plato's Phaedo is the record of Socrates' last day on earth. 
The scene is an Athenian prison in the summer of 399 B.C. The 
dialogue concerns the nature and functions of the human soul. 
The argument which proceeds with ease is broken here and 
there by touches of humor and passages of moral eloquence. 
Throughout the day there are reminders of approaching tragedy, 
as when the jailer removes the chains from Socrates' legs, when 
he advises Socrates not to heat himself by discussion — otherwise 
a dose of poison larger than usual will have to be prepared — 
and when he arrives finally for the execution. As the portrayal 
of the end of a good, wise, and just man, who dies without fear, 
thoughtful of others, and sensitive to the sorrow of his friends, 
the beauty and poignancy of the Phaedo are probably unmatched 
in the history of human literature. 

Socrates has been the author's teacher. Plato is twenty- 
eight when Socrates dies; he has known him for some years. 
The pupil is born to high station. The master is a stone-cutter. 
Between 432 B.C. and 422 B.C. he serves as a soldier. On 
campaigns his fellows are amazed at his courage and resistance 
to hunger and cold. Later he becomes well known as an intrepid 
individual who refuses to obey the order of reigning political 
tyrants to deliver a political opponent of theirs into their hands 
for execution. In physical appearance Socrates is unprepos- 
sessing to the point of grotesqueness, with a flat nose, protruding 
eyes, and awkward gait. He has an infectious ironic mirth and 
his perception of thoughts and persons is instantaneous. All 
sorts of people seek his company; many are impressed, some 
remain his disciples; others, like Critias and Alcibiades, find 
his sayings too difficult for practice and fall away. 

In most of Plato's dialogues Socrates is the chief dramatis 
persona. Usually he has the role of interrogator who invites and 


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comments on the opinions of others. But in the Symposium, 
Apology, Crito, and Phaedo he proclaims and elaborates his own 
convictions concerning good and evil, life and death. The first 
of these four is a drinking party. Here he appears among gay 
and carefree friends in full lustiness of life. The other three, 
with sharp contrast of scene, show him on trial, in prison, and 
about to undergo execution. 

In the Apology two charges are laid by his accusers: (1) 
Socrates has introduced strange gods to Athens; (2) Socrates 
corrupts the Athenian young. The indictments are not sincere; 
the real reason for the prosecution has been withheld. Socrates 
has consistently castigated his fellow citizens, notably the poli- 
ticians, poets, orators, and artisans, for their inexpertness in 
distinguishing between sham and truth and their failure to pursue 
honest inquiry into the nature of justice. (His public accusers 
are significantly a politician, a poet, and a rhetorician.) The 
second formal indictment reminds the jury — and this is undoubt- 
edly the intention behind it — that Critias and Alcibiades are two 
persons who have been attracted to Socrates; and the former of 
these has been among the city's tyrants who have lately been 
removed from office, and the latter has proved himself a profaner 
of the "mysteries" and a political renegade and traitor to his city. 

As for the first indictment: any reflective thinker who under- 
takes the task of bringing a degree of consistency into the varied 
and complex mythological stories about manifold Greek deities 
will undoubtedly be deemed guilty of something or other. More- 
over, Socrates has been in the habit of speaking of a "demon" 
which has possessed him. This "inner voice," he explains, has 
warned him against action when he might have done wrong, and 
has admonished him when advising others. 

Socrates as an honest man denies the charges. He proceeds 
before the jury to compare himself to a gadfly whose function 
has been the arousing of Athenians from their complacent accept- 
ance of unfounded opinions. He taunts his hearers with the claim 
that, like a victorious Olympic competitor, he should be kept at 
public expense. He is found guilty and sentenced to death. 

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The sentence cannot be put into effect immediately. The ver- 
dict has been rendered the day after the sacred ship has been 
sent on a mission in annual commemoration of the voyage of 
Theseus to Crete, and no one may be legally executed until she 
returns. The trip in this instance takes thirty days. 

At dawn of the day on which the ship is to reach Athens, 
Ci ito — in a brief dialogue which bears his name — visits Socrates 
in prison and requests him to escape and flee to friends in 
Thessaly. Crito has "influence." He, along with Cebes and 
Simmias, is prepared to provide whatever funds may be required. 
Socrates refuses to go. The law, administered as it is by erring 
men, may be wronging him; he will not detract from its worth. 
The observance and the operation of law, Socrates reflects, provide 
order and stability in societies. Laws are like parents. Living 
under their ministration and protection implies the acceptance of 
a moral contract which enjoins obedience. The laws have found 
him guilty. The day for his execution has dawned; the sacred 
ship has completed her voyage. Socrates will accept the penalty 
exacted by his political peers. 

His wife and the youngest of his three children are with him 
when the prison opens in the morning — it would seem that they 
have been with him through the night. His wife is overwrought 
and goes home, to return in the afternoon accompanied by other 
women of the household. With compassion Socrates persuades 
them to leave before the final hour. On these intimate family 
meetings Plato is fittingly silent. The remainder of the day is 
spent with friends and philosophical inquirers in conversation 
about the soul, its nature, and its immortality. Phaedo, who 
is present, describes the scene to Echecrates at Phlius. Phaedo 
is a native of Elis. At one time he had been taken prisoner in 
a military campaign and brought to Athens as a slave. He was 
ransomed and became an intimate disciple of Socrates. On the 
death of his master he returns to his native city to become the 
founder of the Elean school of philosophy. It is highly probable 
that the account of Socrates' last day which is recorded in the 

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dialogue which bears his name, is given on his way back home 
to a group of Pythagoreans. Of these only Echecrates is men- 
tioned by name. He is placed by Diogenes Laertius among "the 
last of the Pythagoreans." 
I Persons with Socrates in the prison are the Athenians — 
| Antisthenes, Apollodorus, Critobulus, Crito, Hermogenes, Epige- 
/ nes, Aeschines, Ctesippus, and Menexenus ; three Thebans — Cebes, 
I Simmias, and Phaidondas; two Megarians — Euclides and Terp- 
sion. Aristippus and Cleombrotus have not learned of the ship's 
return in time to get back from Aegina before the execution. 
Plato is unable to attend because of illness. 

Of these, Apollodorus, whom Plato makes the narrator in the 
Symposium, is an impulsive person, greatly attached to Socrates, 
yet petulant and given — as effeminate men sometimes are — to 
telling slanderous tales about others. Along with Antisthenes he 
belongs to the Cynic group within the Socratic circle. Critobulus 
is a prepossessing young man, a little too disposed to rely on his 
good looks and pleasing manners for ingratiating himself with 
others. He is with his father Crito. This man is wealthy, fearless, 
and highly respected throughout Athens for his honesty and 
integrity. Crito is Socrates' oldest and staunchest friend. He has 
given financial surety that Socrates will not leave prison when 
allowed access to his friends. And yet so great is his belief in 
Socrates' worth to Athens and to the Greek world generally, that 
he is prepared to accept heavy financial responsibility if Socrates 
will leave the prison and go to another city. He is the friend 
who is closeted with Socrates while the latter makes his final 
preparations for drinking the poison which will bring death. 
While he has tried to convince Socrates that he should refuse to 
undergo the final penalty, he now defers in modesty to Socrates' 
decision in the matter. 

Hermogenes is a younger brother of Callias who, according 
to Plato, has spent more money on Sophists than any contempo- 
rary. Both brothers are members of the larger Socratic circle. 
Epigenes is interested in philosophy, but inclined to laziness. 
Aeschines is a writer of philosophic dialogues. Antisthenes is the 

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leader of the Cynic group. Ctesippus, who appears in the Euthy- 
demus and the Lysis, is a person "of gentle birth and breeding," 
and displays "a certain violence of youth." Menexenus, after 
whom a Platonic dialogue is called, is a scion of a family long 
dominant in Athenian politics. He regards himself as one neces- 
sarily consigned to a political career. 

Euclides and Terpsion, who hail from Megara, are enthusiastic 
exponents of Eleatic doctrines. Of Aristippus many conjectures 
are entertained and few facts are known. It seems that his 
experience of life is wide and he is an avowed Hedonist. A person 
called Cleombrotus is said to have thrown himself into the sea 
after reading Plato's Phaedo. Whether the story itself is well 
founded and whether it concerns the Cleombrotus who appears 
in this dialogue are questions to which no authoritative answer 
can be given. 

Of Phaidondas nothing is known except his loyalty to Socra- 
tes. The other two Thebans, Cebes and Simmias, are disciples 
of the Pythagorean Philolaus. In the present dialogue they are 
the chief interlocutors of Socrates, and as a consequence the 
dramatic argument comes to have a Pythagorean setting. The 
reader, of course, will not conclude because of this that the doc- 
trines set forth by Socrates are consequentially Pythagorean. 
Indeed, what the contemporary teachings of the Pythagoreans 
are is exceedingly difficult to descry. The cult which traditionally 
bears this name has spread and separated in varied ways. Some 
of its numbers are interested in distinctive religious ordinances; 
others seek definition and system in mathematics; a third group 
which includes Cebes and Simmias concern themselves with 
physical theories. Yet most, if not all their number, remain 
aware of the two tenets entertained in the original school ; namely, 
that the soul transmigrates from body to body, and that knowl- 
edge in this world is reminiscence of objects earlier cognized in 
an intelligible realm of Forms. 

The list of persons within the dialogue is imposing in its 
variety. Athenians of many interests and philosophers of several 
persuasions have been stirred by Socrates' condemnation and 

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approaching execution. Moreover, the preoccupations and doc- 
trines which the author on this occasion brings under review are 
highly significant. This latter fact requires some emphasis, in 
that not a few historians are disposed to represent Socrates as a 
person who, while intelligent and inquisitive, confines his think- 
ing up to the age of seventy to questions about definition and a 
simple sort of induction in the realm of ethics. For this view a 
reliance upon certain sayings of Xenophon and on slight Aris- 
totelian commentary is largely responsible. 

The sources for a knowledge of Socrates' life and teachings 
are mainly four: (a) the caricatures of Aristophanes, (b) the 
Memorabilia and other writings of Xenophon, (c) the dialogues 
of Plato, and (d) the works of Aristotle. The last of these four 
authors reports that Socrates is the originator of definition and 
induction, and remarks that the Socratic doctrine of Forms is 
allied to the Pythagorean theory of numbers. But Aristotle 
was not born until fifteen years after Socrates' death; and he is 
disposed to choose from the opinions of his predecessors only 
such as will suit his preoccupations. 

Xenophon, who undertakes a "defense" of Socrates, does not 
understand his hero. He has spent relatively little time with 
Socrates, and he is away on military duty during Socrates' last 
years. Were Socrates as innocuous as Xenophon represents him 
to be, he never could have drawn reflective people about him, 
nor have dominated the mind of Plato, nor indeed have been 
made the object of persecution by his fellow Athenians. 

Aristophanes is a writer of understanding and a close ac- 
quaintance of Socrates. His Clouds, in which Socrates is cari- 
catured, is quoted in the Symposium as a tribute to the philos- 
opher. Socrates is portrayed by Aristophanes in the Clouds as 
a physical inquirer. 

In the Phaedo those who question and listen to Socrates 
assume that he is familiar with the cosmological and physical 
theories of the Milesians, Heracliteans, Eleatics, Empedocleans, 
Pythagoreans, and with the writings on medicine and music. And, 
most significantly, Plato's account of the solution of the major 

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problems raised in the dialogue depends upon the transition within 
the mind of Socrates from an earlier concern with physical causa- 
tion to a later inquiry into the nature of logical cause and essence. 

Allowing for some dramatic amplification by the author, the 
Phaedo may be taken as a faithful account of Socrates' concerns 
and conversation during his last hours on earth. Certain of those 
present in the prison, including Euclides and Terpsion, were still 
alive when the piece was written. Plato was absent, but there can 
be no doubt that he received an accurate report of what went on. 

The main topic for discussion in the dialogue is the soul's 
immortality. This theme is introduced with the observation by 
Socrates that the philosopher does not fear death with its separa- 
tion of soul from body, because during his life he has undergone 
an abnegation of the lusts and confusions which beset the em- 
bodied soul and has made his escape to a realm of abiding things 
beyond the vicissitudes of change and decay. Even as the philos- 
opher has found in wisdom a purification, so will he welcome 
death as the final step in an initiation into true being. It has been 
taught by Philolaus the Pythagorean that persons while inhabiting 
this world are in ward and should not force the doors of their 
prison. Socrates finds this reasoning difficult to follow, but he 
thinks that man is in some sense a chattel of the gods and there- 
fore should not take his own life, but await their call in good 
time. Cebes and others of the company are hoping that Socrates 
will give a reasoned defense for his profession of immortality, the 
more especially because there is a current belief that the human 
soul is no more than physical breath which death disperses. 

This "proof" is begun by way of analogy. Opposites pass 
into opposites. When a thing becomes hotter it becomes so from 
what is colder; the colder becomes from the hotter. The greater 
becomes from the lesser, and the lesser from the greater. Sleep- 
ing passes into waking, waking into sleeping. By the same token 
death comes from life and life from death. Again, a composite 
thing is more liable to dissolution than one which is incomposite. 
What is composed of parts may be deemed prone to decomposition. 
Many objects of this sort are seen to be incessantly in change 

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and varying continuously in appearance. Others, like Forms or 
Ideas, which belong to the intelligible realm and not the visible, 
and which are perceived not by sense but in intellectual under- 
standing, prove to be unvarying, changeless, and indissoluble. Of 
these two sorts the body has kinship with the former, and the 
soul with the latter. 

Cebes recalls an argument which Socrates is reported to 
favor. This is to the effect that on the presentation of appropriate 
diagrams an untutored observer will recognize universal geometric 
truths. He does not "see" the latter but only particular figures 
inadequately drawn — the inscribed square or triangle is rarely 
drawn to specification; its lines are not straight nor its angles 
of proper dimensions — yet on their presentation to his visual sense 
he is enabled to cognize such intellectual objects as squareness 
and triangularity. Since these have not been taught him nor seen 
by his eye, it may be concluded that his perception of them is 
really a recollection of things already known. This doctrine, 
that knowledge is reminiscence, is illustrated by Socrates' instruc- 
tion of a slave boy in an earlier dialogue of Plato's, the Meno. It 
rests on the hypothesis that while inhabiting an intelligible realm 
in a previous mode of existence the soul has been in direct contact 
with Forms. On its entry to the present world the soul is enclosed 
in a body and is consequently rendered subject to the darkness of 
sense and the disturbance of physical appetite. It forgets the 
objects which it has formerly entertained. On the occasion of the 
presentation of particulars it is reminded of the Forms which it 
has already known and through memory it recognizes them. 

The last argument is enough for most of the company, but 
not for Simmias or Cebes. Evidence for the soul's pre-existence 
is not proof of its survival in perpetuity. May it not be, asks 
Simmias, that the soul puts on successive bodies like a person puts 
on his garments, and finally one day wears his last garment and 
dies? Or, again, adds Cebes, may there not be soundness in a 
current hypothesis that the soul is nothing more than a "harmony" 
or organization of bodily elements which, when brought into a 
certain conjunction, constitute an organism, and, if so, would not 

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the soul cease to be when these were decomposed? To use the 
term harmonia in its musical sense — for it means both conjunction 
and musical mode — can a harmony remain after the strings of 
the lyre are broken? 

Echecrates voices the dismay of the listeners at these queries. 
Socrates is not perturbed. He warns the company against misology. 
Misanthropy, the hatred of men, and misology, the hatred of ideas, 
spring from disappointment after the placing of too great con- 
fidence in persons and discourses. Few people are bad, few 
good; most are morally mediocre. If discussion sometimes dis- 
appoints, reason is not to blame but the inexpertness of the 
argument. As for the soundness of the description of the soul in 
terms of harmony which Simmias has adduced: a mode of musical 
harmony is a mode and nothing different; it cannot manifest 
1 degrees of better or worse as a determined way of making melody 
or ordering sounds. An adjustment of physical parts to the 
making of a specific totality suffers the same limitations. But 
souls vary with respect to degrees of good and evil. If one were 
to construe the soul's virtue in terms of "harmony," as is some- 
times done, and at the same time were to accept the thesis in 
question, he would find it necessary to posit a second harmony 
within the original harmony, and thus doubly to complicate his 
difficulties. The concept "harmony" is unfortunate for further 
reasons. A harmony cannot run counter to the parts of which it 
is a harmony; but the soul in its operations masters the body and 
frustrates appetites which are occasioned by the body's presence. 
A description of the soul's nature as a mechanical adjustment 
among physical parts fails to take under reckoning the soul's 
possession and use of those innate ideas which Cebes has admitted 
to the satisfaction of Simmias into an earlier account of knowing. 

The second difficulty, voiced by Cebes, is not easily met. It 
raises a major question of causation, and presents a problem 
which Socrates has long considered. When a young man, Socrates 
set out with great enthusiasm to investigate nature and to find out 
why things become what they do. He considered such questions 
as these: Is growth the result of fermentation by heat and cold? 

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Is blood the element by which we think, or is this air, or fire, or 
something else? Is the brain the organ of hearing, sight, and 
smell? Do memory and opinion come from these, and is knowl- 
edge founded on the memory and opinion which thus ensue? In 
his preoccupation with such inquiries he not only forgot what he 
had previously known, but he became thoroughly confused by the 
opinions he had gathered. 

While in despair he heard someone reading from a book by 
Anaxagoras the statement that Mind is the cause of all things. 
He now thought his difficulties would be resolved on finding, as 
he hoped, reasons for things being what they are. But to his 
disappointment he discovered that Anaxagoras, like others before, 
had so completely accounted for the world by the activities of air, 
ether, water, and other absurdities, that there was no place left 
for the Mind he had asserted to be the explanation of all. His 
conclusion was like someone saying that the cause of Socrates' 
being in prison and not on his way to Boeotia is that his bones 
and muscles do not carry him there. 

Anaxagoras having failed him, Socrates turned to what he 
ironically calls a "second best" explanation of cause. This, in 
brief, is to the effect that the reason for a thing's being or 
becoming what it is, is due to its participation in Forms or Ideas. 
Suppose, for example, that Simmias who is small becomes great, 
or what is one becomes two. Smallness in the one case does not 
become greatness, nor does oneness in the other become twoness. 
The Forms (or classes or predicates), of which smallness, great- 
ness, oneness, and twoness are examples, never themselves change. 
When what is called change takes place in an object, that which 
is discerned to change ceases to participate in one Form and takes 
on another. Change in a subject is marked by a succession of 
predicates, but not by the transformation of any predicate into 
another. An object is seen to "move" or become when it ceases 
to participate in one Form and afterward participates in another 

Now there are Forms which are mere accidents: Simmias 
may remain Simmias while he increases his stature in passing 

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from smallness to greatness. But there are also Forms which 
constitute the essential natures of objects. To illustrate: where 
one finds fire there is always hotness. Fire participates in hotness, 
as snow does in coldness. Fire will not admit coldness, nor 
snow hotness. The numbers three and five admit oddness but 
not evenness. Oddness is essential to them. To apply this aspect 
of the doctrine of F.orms to the essentiality of the soul: even as 
fire cannot be separated from heat, snow from coldness, and the 
number three from oddness, so the so ul can not be separated from 
life. Life is essential to the soul. We say a person is dead when 
the soul has departed. A dead soul is a contradiction in terms. 
Such is the main argument in the Phaedo for the soul's immor- 
tality. To it the other "proofs" are subsidiary and ancillary. 

This emphasis on "participation" marks a definite stage of 
development in the Platonic doctrine of Forms. In the dialogues 
the doctrine undergoes a continuous development, which for pur- 
poses of analysis may be classified according to three successive 
stages. The early dialogues represent the Form (or Idea) as not 
the changing, not the many, not the particular, not the sensible; 
only by implication may it be construed as the permanent, the 
one, the universal, the rational. In the middle dialogues Plato 
sets in sharp contrast the realm of permanent unchanging realities 
with the world of particulars, subject to becoming and decay. 
He asserts explicitly that the true objects of rational knowledge 
and the constituents of the real world are permanent, universal 
Forms beyond the vicissitudes of time and change. At this stage 
of his thought the particulars provide little in cognition beyond 
an exemplification of archetypes, which are Forms. The particular 
seen through the agency of sense proves to be an inadequate 
"copy" of the universal which is discerned through it. One sees, 
for example, a badly drawn triangle, and yet cognizes by means 
of the sensuous experience of this particular a triangularity which 
is rationally defined. Sense-experience, epistemologically speak- 
ing, is nothing more than the occasion of intellectual knowledge 
of universals through some sort of association induced by par- 

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In one especially of his later dialogues, the Parmenides, Plato 
brings under review the question of the relationship between 
Forms and particulars. He critically considers accounts of this 
in such terms as "resemblance" and "participation." And after- 
ward, notably in the Sophist and the Philebus, he undertakes the 
tasks of (a) overcoming an assumed disparity between the uni- 
versal and the particular, (b) uniting the one and the many in a 
synthesis of knowledge, and (c) merging being and permanence 
with becoming and change within an intelligible realm. 


University of Toronto 
December, 1950 


To facilitate reference to passages in the dialogue the pagina- 
tion of Stephanus ' edition of Plato (Paris^ 1578) has been used 
in the margins of the text. 

Spelling and punctuation have been revised to conform to 
current American usage. 

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The Narrator 

The Servant of the Eleven 

Scene — The Prison of Socrates 

Echecrates. Were you with Socrates yourself, Phaedo, on that CHAP. 1 
day when he drank the poison in the prison, or did you hear the Steph. 

Phaedo. I was there myself, Echecrates. 

Ech. Then what was it that our master said before his death, 
and how did he die? I should be very glad if you would tell me. 
None of our citizens go very much to Athens now; and no stranger 
has come from there for a long time who could give us any definite 
account of these things, except that he drank the poison and died. 
We could learn nothing beyond that. 

Phaedo. Then have you not heard about the trial either, how 
that went? 

Ech. Yes, we were told of that, and we were rather surprised 
to find that he did not die till so long after the trial. Why was 
that, Phaedo? 

Phaedo. It was an accident, Echecrates. The stern of the ship, 
which the Athenians send to Delos, happened to have been crowned 
on the day before the trial. 

Ech. And what is this ship? 

Phaedo. It is the ship, as the Athenians say, in which Theseus 
took the seven youths and the seven maidens to Crete, and saved 

story from someone else? 

p. 58 


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them from death, and himself was saved. The Athenians made 
a vow then to Apollo, the story goes, to send a sacred mission to 
Delos every year, if they should be saved; and from that time to 
this they have always sent it to the god, every year. They have a 
law to keep the city pure as soon as the mission begins, and not 
to execute any sentence of death until the ship has returned from 
Delos; and sometimes, when it is detained by contrary winds, that 
is a long while. The sacred mission begins when the priest of 
Apollo crowns the stern of the ship; and, as I said, this happened 
to have been done on the day before the trial. That was why 
Socrates lay so long in prison between his trial and his death. 

Ech. But tell me about his death, Phaedo. What was said 
and done, and which of his friends were with our master? Or 
would not the authorities let them be there? Did he die alone? 

Phaedo. Oh, no; some of them were there, indeed several. 

Ech. It would be very good of you, if you are not busy, to tell 
us the whole story as exactly as you can. 

Phaedo. No, I have nothing to do, and I will try to relate it. 
Nothing is more pleasant to me than to recall Socrates to my mind, 
whether by speaking of him myself or by listening to others. 

Ech. Indeed, Phaedo, you will have an audience like yourself. 
But try to tell us everything that happened as precisely as you can. 

Phaedo. Well, I myself was strangely moved on that day. I 
did not feel that I was being present at the death of a dear friend; 
I did not pity him, for he seemed to me happy, Echecrates, both 
in his bearing and in his words, so fearlessly and nobly did he die. 
I could not help thinking that the gods would watch over him still 
on his journey to the other world, and that when he arrived there 
it would be well with him, if it was ever well with any man. There- 
fore I had scarcely any feeling of pity, as you would expect at such 
a mournful time. Neither did I feel the pleasure which I usually 
felt at our philosophical discussions; for our talk was of philoso- 
phy. A very singular feeling came over me, a strange mixture of 
pleasure and of pain when I remembered that he was presently to 
die. All of us who were there were in much the same state, laugh- 
ing and crying by turns; particularly Apollodorus. I think you 
know the man and his ways. 

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Ech. Of course I do. 

Phaedo. Well, he did not restrain himself at all and I myself 
and the others were greatly agitated too. 
Ech. Who were there, Phaedo? 

Phaedo. Of native Athenians, there was this Apollodorus, and 
Critobulus, and his father Crito, and Hermogenes, and Epigenes, 
and Aeschines, and Antisthenes. Then there was Ctesippus the 
Paeanian, and Menexenus, and some other Athenians. Plato I 
believe was ill. 

Ech. Were any strangers there? 

Phaedo. Yes, there was Simmias of Thebes, and Cebes, and 
Phaedondes; and Eucleides and Terpsion from Megara. . 

Ech. But Aristippus and Cleombrotus, were they present? 

Phaedo. No, they were not. They were said to be in Aegina. 

Ech. Was anyone else there? 

Phaedo. No, I think that these were all. 

Ech. Then tell us about your conversation. 

Phaedo. I will try to relate the whole story to you from the 
beginning. On the previous days I and the others had always met 
in the morning at the court where the trial was held, which was 
close to the prison ; and then we had gone in to Socrates. We used 
to wait each morning until the prison was opened, conversing, 
for it was not opened early. When it was opened we used to go 
in to Socrates, and we generally spent the whole day with him. But 
on that morning we met earlier than usual; for the evening before 
we had learned, on leaving the prison, that the ship had arrived 
from Delos. So we arranged to be at the usual place as early as 
possible. When we reached the prison, the porter, who generally 
let us in, came out to us and bade us wait a little, and not to go 
in until he summoned us himself: "For the Eleven," he said, "are 
releasing Socrates from his fetters and giving directions for his 
death today." In no great while he returned and bade us enter. 
So we went in and found Socrates just released, and Xanthippe — 
you know her — sitting by him, holding his child in her arms. 
When Xanthippe saw us, she wailed aloud, and cried, in her 
woman's way, "This is the last time, Socrates, that you will talk 
with your friends, or they with you." And Socrates glanced at 

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Crito, and said, "Crito, let her be taken home." So some of Crito's 
servants led her away weeping bitterly and beating her breast. 
But Socrates sat up on the bed, and bent his leg and rubbed it with 
his hand, and while he was rubbing it said to us, How strange a 
thing is what men call pleasure! How wonderful is its relation 
to pain, which seems to be the opposite of it ! They will not come 
to a man together; but if he pursues the one and gains it, he is 
almost forced to take the other also, as if they were two distinct 
things united at one end. And I think, said he, that if Aesop had 
noticed them he would have composed a fable about them, to the 
effect that God had wished to reconcile them when they were 
quarrelling, and that, when he could not do that, he joined their 
ends together; and that therefore whenever the one comes to a 
man, the other is sure to follow. That is just the case with me. 
There was pain in my leg caused by the chains, and now, it seems, 
pleasure is come following the pain. 

Cebes interrupted him and said, By the bye, Socrates, I am 
glad that you reminded me. Several people have been inquiring 
about your poems, the hymn to Apollo, and Aesop's fables which 
you have put into meter, and only a day or two ago Evenus asked 
me what was your reason for writing poetry on coming here, when 
you had never written a line before. So if you wish me to be able 
to answer him when he asks me again, as I know that he will, tell 
me what to say. 

Then tell him the truth, Cebes, he said. Say that it was from 
no wish to pose as a rival to him, or to his poems. I knew that 
it would not be easy to do that. I was only testing the meaning 
of certain dreams and acquitting my conscience about them, in 
case they should be bidding me make this kind of music. The fact 
is this. The same dream used often to come to me in my past life, 
appearing in different forms at different times, but always saying 
the same words, "Socrates, work at music and compose it." For- 
merly I used to think that the dream was encouraging me and 
cheering me on in what was already the work of my life, just as 
the spectators cheer on different runners in a race. I supposed 
that the dream was encouraging me to create the music at which I 
was working already, for I thought that philosophy was the highest 

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music, and my life was spent in philosophy. But then, after the 
trial, when the feast of the god delayed my death, it occurred to 
me that the dream might possibly be bidding me create music in 
the popular sense, and that in that case I ought to do so, and not 
to disobey. I thought that it would be safer to acquit my con- 
science by creating poetry in obedience to the dream before I 
departed. So first I composed a hymn to the god whose feast 
it was. And then I turned such fables of Aesop as I knew, and 
had ready to my hand, into verse, taking those which came first; 
for I reflected that a man who means to be a poet has to use fiction 
and not facts for his poems; and I could not invent fiction myself. 

Tell Evenus this, Cebes, and bid him farewell from rhe; and 
tell him to follow me as quickly as he can, if he is wise. I, it 
seems, shall depart today, for that is the will of the Athenians. 

And Simmias said, What strange advice to give Evenus, 
Socrates! I have often met him, and from what I have seen of 
him I think that he is certainly not at all the man to take it, if 
he can help it. 

What, he said, is not Evenus a philosopher? 

Yes, I suppose so, replied Simmias. 

Then Evenus will wish to die, he said, and so will every man 
who is worthy of having any part in this study. But he will not 
lay violent hands on himself; for that, they say, is wrong. And 
as he spoke he put his legs off the bed on to the ground, and 
remained sitting thus for the rest of the conversation. 

Then Cebes asked him, What do you mean, Socrates, by 
saying that it is wrong for a man to lay violent hands on himself, 
but that the philosopher will wish to follow the dying man? 

What, Cebes? Have you and Simmias been with Philolaus, 
and not heard about these things? 

Nothing very definite, Socrates. 

Well, I myself only speak of them from hearsay, yet there is 
no reason why I should not tell you what I have heard. Indeed, 
as I am setting out on a journey to the other world, what could be 
more fitting for me than to talk about my journey and to con- 
sider what we imagine to be its nature? How could we better 
employ the interval between this and sunset? 

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VI Then what is their reason for saying that it is wrong for a 

man to kill himself, Socrates? It is quite true that I have heard 
Philolaus say, when he was living at Thebes, that it is not right; 
and I have heard the same thing from others, too, but I never 
heard anything definite on the subject from any of them. 

62 You must be of good cheer, said he, possibly you will hear 

something some day. But perhaps you will be surprised if I say 
that this law, unlike every other law to which mankind is subject, 
is absolute and without exception ; and that it is not true that death 
is better than life only for some persons and at some times. And 
perhaps you will be surprised if I tell you that these men, for 
whom it would be better to die, may not do themselves a service, 
but that they must await a benefactor from without. 

Oh indeed, said Cebes, laughing quietly, and speaking in his 
native dialect. 

Indeed, said Socrates, so stated it may seem strange, and yet 
perhaps a reason may be given for it. The reason which the 
secret teaching 1 gives, that man is in a kind of prison, and that 
he may not set himself free, nor escape from it, seems to me rather 
profound and not easy to fathom. But I do think, Cebes, that it 
is true that the gods are our guardians, and that we men are a 
part of their property. Do you not think so? 

I do, said Cebes. 

Well then, said "he, if one of your possessions were to kill 
itself, though you had not signified that you wished it to die, 
should you not be angry with it? Should you not punish it, if 
punishment were possible? 

Certainly, he replied. 

Then in this way perhaps it is not unreasonable to hold that 
no man has a right to take his own life, but that he must wait until 
God sends some necessity upon him, as has now been sent 
upon me. 

VII Yes, said Cebes, that does seem natural. But you were saying 

just now that the philosopher will desire to die. Is not that a 
paradox, Socrates, if what we have just been saying, that God is 

1 The Esoteric system of the Pythagoreans. 

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our guardian and that we are his property, be true? It is not 
reasonable to say that the wise man will be content to depart from 
this service, in which the gods, who are the best of all rulers, rule 
him. He will hardly think that when he becomes free he will take 
better care of himself than the gods take of him. A fool perhaps 
might think so, and say that he would do well to run away from 
his master; he might not consider that he ought not to run away 
from a good master, but that he ought to remain with him as long 
as possible, and so in his thoughtlessness he might run away. But 
the wise man will surely desire to remain always with one who is 
better than himself. But if this be true, Socrates, the reverse of 
what you said just now seems to follow. The wise man should 
grieve to die, and the fool should rejoice. 

I thought Socrates was pleased with Cebes' insistence. He 63 
looked at us, and said, Cebes is always examining arguments. 
He will not be convinced at once by anything that one says. 

Yes, Socrates, said Simmias, but I do think that now there 
is something in what Cebes says. Why should really wise men 
want to run away from masters who are better than themselves, 
and lightly quit their service? And I think Cebes is aiming his 
argument at you, because you are so ready to leave us, and the 
gods, who are good rulers, as you yourself admit. 

You are right, he said. I suppose you mean that I must 
defend myself against your charge, as if I were in a court of 
j ustice. 

That is just our meaning, said Simmias. 

Well then, he replied, let me try to make a more successful VIII 
defense to you than I did to the judges at my trial. I should be 
wrong, Cebes and Simmias, he went on, not to grieve at death, 
if I did not think that I was going to live both with other gods 
who are good and wise, and with men who have died and who are 
better than the men of this world. But you must know that I 
hope that I am going to live among good men, though I am not 
quite sure of that. But I am as sure as I can be in such matters 
that I am going to live with gods who are very good masters. And 
therefore I am not so much grieved at death; I am confident that 

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the dead have some kind of existence, and, as has been said of old, 
an existence that is far better for the good than for the wicked. 

Well, Socrates, said Simmias, do you mean to go away and 
keep this belief to yourself, or will you let us share it with you ? It 
seems to me that we too have an interest in this good. And it will 
also serve as your defense, if you can convince us of what you say. 

I will try, he replied. But I think Crito has been wanting to 
speak to me. Let us first hear what he has to say. 

Only, Socrates, said Crito, that the man who is going to give 
you the poison has been telling me to warn you not to talk much. 
He says that talking heats people, and that the action of the 
poison must not be counteracted by heat. Those who excite them- 
selves sometimes have to drink it two or three times. 

Let him be, said Socrates; let him mind his own business, 
and be prepared to give me the poison twice, or, if need be, thrice. 

I knew that would be your answer, said Crito, but the man 
has been importunate. 

Never mind him, he replied. But I wish now to explain to 
you, my judges, why it seems to me that a ma^n who has ^really 
spent his life in philosophy has reason to be of good cheer when 
64 he is about to die, and may well hope after death to gain in the 
other world the greatest good. I will try to show you, Simmias 
and Cebes, how this may be. 
IX The world, perhaps, does not see that those who rightly engage 

in philosophy study only dying and death. And, if this be true, 
it would be surely strange for a man all through his life to 
desire only death, and then, when death comes to him, to be vexed 
at it, when it has been his study and his desire for so long. 

Simmias laughed, and said: Indeed, Socrates, you make me 
laugh, though I am scarcely in a laughing humor now. If the 
multitude heard that, I fancy they would think that what you say 
of philosophers is quite true; and my countrymen would entirely 
agree with you that philosophers are indeed eager to die, and they 
would say that they know full well that philosophers deserve to be 
put to death. 

And they would be right, Simmias, except in saying that 

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they know it. They do not know in what sense the true philosopher 
is eager to die, or what kind of death he deserves, or in what sense 
he deserves it. Let us dismiss them from our thoughts, and con- 
verse by ourselves. Do we believe death to be anything? 
We do, replied Simmias. f . 

And do we not believe it to be the separation of the soul 
[from the body? Does not death mean that the body comes to 
exist by itself, sep€Hfrted from the soul, and that the soul exists by 
herself, separated from the body? What is death but that? 

It is that, he said. 

Now consider, my good friend, if you and I are agreed on 
another point which I think will help us to understand the question 
better. Do you think that a philosopher will care very much 
about what are called pleasures, such as the pleasures of eating 
and drinking? 

Certainly not, Socrates, said Simmias. 

Or about the pleasures of sexual passion? 

Indeed, no. 

And, do you think that he holds the remaining cares of the 
body in high esteem? Will he think much of getting fine clothes, 
and sandals, and other bodily adornments, or will he despise them, 
except so far as he is absolutely forced to meddle with them? 

The real philosopher, I think, will despise them, he replied. 

In short, said he, you think that his studies are not concerned 
with the body? He stands aloof from it, as far as he can, and 
turns toward the soul? 

I do. 

Well then, in these matters, first, it is clear that the philosopher 
releases his soul from communion with the body, so far as he can, 
beyond all other men? 

It is. 

And does not the world think, Simmias, that if a man has 
no pleasure in such things, and does not take his share in them, 
his life is not worth living? Do not they hold that he who thinks 
nothing of bodily pleasures is almost as good as dead? 

Indeed you are right. 

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But what about the actual acquisition of wisdom? If the 
body is taken as a companion in the search for wisdom, is it a 
hindrance or not? For example, do sight and hearing convey any 
real truth to men? Are not the very poets forever telling us that 
we neither hear nor see anything accurately? But if these senses 
of the body are not accurate or clear, the others will hardly be so, 
for they are all less perfect than these, are they not? 

Yes, I think so, certainly, he said. 

Then when does the soul attain truth? he asked. We see 
that, as often as she seeks to investigate anything in company with 
the body, the body leads her astray. 


Is it not by reasoning, if at all, that any real truth becomes 
manifest to her? 

And she reasons best, I suppose, when none of the senses, 
whether hearing, or sight, or pain, or pleasure, harasses her; when 
she has dismissed the body, and released herself as far as she can 
from all intercourse or contact with it, and so, coming to be as 
much alone with herself as is possible, strives after real truth. 

That is so. 

And here too the soul of the philosopher very greatly despises 
the body, and flies from it, and seeks to be alone by herself, does 
she not? 


And what do you say to the next point, Simmias? Do we say 
that there is such a thing as absolute justice, or not? 
Indeed we do. 

And absolute beauty, and absolute good? 
Of course. 

Have you ever seen any of them with your eyes? 
Indeed I have not, he replied. 

Did you ever grasp them with any bodily sense? I am 
speaking of all absolutes, whether size, or health, or strength ; in 
a word, of the essence or real being of everything. Is the very 
truth of things contemplated by the body? Is it not rather the 

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case that the man who prepares himself most carefully to appre- 
hend by his intellect the essence of each thing which he examines 
will come nearest to the knowledge of it? 

And will not a man attain to this pure thought most completely 
if he goes to each thing, as far as he can, with his mind alone, 
taking neither sight nor any other sense along with his reason 
in the process of thought, to be an encumbrance? In every case 66 
he will pursue pure and absolute being, with his pure intellect 
alone. He will be set free as far as possible from the eye and 
the ear and, in short, from the whole body, because intercourse 
with the body troubles the soul, and hinders her from gaining truth 
and wisdom. Is it not he who will attain the knowledge of real 
being, if any man will? 

Your words are admirably true, Socrates, said Simmias. 

And, he said, must not all this cause real philosophers to XI 
reflect, and make them say to each other, It seems that there is a 
narrow path which will bring us safely to our journey's end, with 
reason as our guide. As long as we have this body, and an evil 
of that sort is mingled with our souls, we shall never fully gain 
what we desire; and that is truth. For the body is forever taking 
up our time with the care which it needs; and, besides, whenever 
diseases attack it, they hinder us in our pursuit of real being. 
It fills us with passions, and desires, and fears, and all manner of 
phantoms, and much foolishness; and so, as the saying goes, in 
very truth we can never think at all for it. It alone and its desires 
cause wars and factions and battles; for the origin of all wars is 
the pursuit of wealth, 2 and we are forced to pursue wealth because 
we live in slavery to the cares of the body. And therefore, for 
all these reasons, we have no leisure for philosophy. And last of 
all, if we ever are free from the body for a time, and then turn to 
examine some matter, it falls in our way at every step of the 
inquiry, and causes confusion and trouble and panic, so that we 
cannot see the truth for it. Verily we have learned that if we are 
to have any pure knowledge at all, we must be freed from the 

2 Cf. Republic 373d. 

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body; the soul by herself must behold things as they are. Then, 
it seems, after we are dead, we shall gain the wisdom which we 
lidesire, and for which we say we have a passion, but not while we 
fare alive, as the argument shows. For if it be not possible to have 
.pure knowledge while the body is with us, one of two things must 
be true: either we cannot gain knowledge at all, or we can gain it 
67 only after death. For then, and not till then, will the soul exist 
'by herself, separate from the body. And while we live, we shall 
come nearest to knowledge, if we have no communion or inter- 
course with the body beyond what is absolutely necessary, and 
if we are not defiled with its nature. We must live pure from it 
until God himself releases us. And when we are thus pure and 
released from its follies, we shall dwell, I suppose, with others 
who are pure like ourselves, and we shall of ourselves know all 
that is pure; and that may be the truth. For I think that the 
impure is not allowed to attain to the pure. Such, Simmias, I fancy 
must needs be the language and the reflections of the true lovers 
of knowledge. Do you not agree with me? 
Most assuredly I do, Socrates. 
XII And, my friend, said Socrates, if this be true, I have good 

hope that, when I reach the place whither I am going, I shall 
there, if anywhere, gain fully that which we have sought so ear- 
nestly in the past. And so I shall set forth cheerfully on the jour- 
ney that is appointed me today, and so may every man who thinks 
that his mind is prepared and purified. 
That is quite true, said Simmias. 

And does not the purification consist, as we have said, in 
separating the soul from the body, as far as is possible, and in 
accustoming her to collect and rally herself together from the body 
on every side, and to dwell alone by herself as much as she can, 
both now and hereafter, released from the bondage of the body? 

Yes, certainly, he said. 

Is not what we call death a release and separation of the soul 
from the body? 

Undoubtedly, he replied. 

And the true philosopher, we hold, is alone in his constant 

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desire to set his soul free? His study is simply the release and 
separation of the soul from the body, is it not? 

Would it not be absurd then, as I began by saying, for a 
man to complain at death coming to him, when in his life he has 
been preparing himself to live as nearly in a state of death as 
he could? Would not that be absurd? 

Yes, indeed. 

In truth, then, Simmias, he said, the true philosopher studies 
to die, and to him of all men is death least terrible. Now look 
at the matter in this way. In everything he is at enmity with his 
body, and he longs to possess his soul alone. Would it not then 
be most unreasonable if he were to fear and complain when he 
has his desire, instead of rejoicing to go to the place where he 68 
hopes to gain the wisdom that he has passionately longed for all 
his life, and to be released from the company of his enemy? 
Many a man has willingly gone to the other world, when a human 
love or wife or son has died, in the hope of seeing there those 
whom he longed for, and of being with them: and will a man 
who has a real passion for wisdom, and a firm hope of really 
finding wisdom in the other world and nowhere else, grieve at 
death, and not depart rejoicing? Nay, my friend, you ought not 
to think that, if he be truly a philosopher. He will be firmly con- 
vinced that there and nowhere else will he meet with wisdom in its 
purity. And if this be so, would it not, I repeat, be very un- 
reasonable for such a man to fear death? 

Yes, indeed, he replied, it would. 

Does not this show clearly, he said, that any man whom you XIII 
see grieving at the approach of death is after all no lover of wis- 
dom, but a lover of his body? He is also, most likely, a lover 
either of wealth, or of honor, or, it may be, of both. 

Yes, he said, it is as you say. 

Well then, Simmias, he went on, does not what is called 
courage belong especially to the philosopher? 
Certainly I think so, he replied. 

And does not temperance, the quality which even the world 

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calls temperance, and which means to despise and control and 
govern the passions — does not temperance belong only to such 
men as most despise the body, and pass their lives in philosophy? 
Of necessity, he replied. 

For if you will consider the courage and the temperance of 
other men, said he, you will find that they are strange things. 
How so, Socrates? 

You know, he replied, that all other men regard death as one 
of the great evils to which mankind is subject? 
Indeed they do, he said. 

And when the brave men of them submit to death, do not 
they do so from a fear of still greater evils? 

Then all men but the philosopher are brave from fear and 
because they are afraid. Yet it is rather a strange thing for a 
man to be brave out of fear and cowardice. 

Indeed it is. 

And are not the orderly men of them in exactly the same 
case? Are not they temperate from a kind of intemperance? We 
should say that this cannot be; but in them this state of foolish 
temperance comes to that. They desire certain pleasures, and fear 
to lose them; and so they abstain from other pleasures because 
they are mastered by these. Intemperance is defined to mean being 
under the dominion of pleasure, yet they only master certain 
pleasures because they are mastered by others. But that is exactly 
what I said just now — that, in a way, they are made temperate 
from intemperance. 

It seems to be so. 

My dear Simmias, I fear that virtue is not really to be bought 
in this way, by bartering pleasure for pleasure, and pain for pain, 
and fear for fear, and the greater for the less, like coins. There 
is only one sterling coin for which all these things ought to be 
exchanged, and that is wisdom. All that is bought and sold for 
this and with this, whether courage, or temperance, or justice, 
is real; in one word, true virtue cannot be without wisdom, and 
it matters nothing whether pleasure, and fear, and all other such 
things are present or absent. But I think that the virtue which is 

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composed of pleasures and fears bartered with one another, and 
severed from wisdom, is only a shadow of true virtue, and that it 
has no freedom, nor health, nor truth. True virtue in reality is 
a kind of purifying from all these things; and temperance, and 
justice, and courage, and wisdom itself are the purification. And 
I fancy that the men who established our mysteries had a very 
real meaning: in truth they have been telling us in parables all 
the time that whosoever comes to Hades uninitiated and profane 
will lie in the mire, while he that has been purified and initiated 
shall dwell with the gods. For "the thyrsus-bearers are many," 
as they say in the mysteries, "but the inspired few." And by 
these last, I believe, are meant only the true philosophers. And 
I in my life have striven as hard as I was able, and have left 
nothing undone, that I might become one of them. Whether I 
have striven in the right way, and whether I have succeeded or 
not, I suppose that I shall learn in a little while, when I reach 
the other world, if it be the will of God. 

That is my defense, Simmias and Cebes, to show that I have 
reason for not being angry or grieved at leaving you and my 
masters here. I believe that in the next world, no less than in this, 
I shall meet with good masters and friends, though the multitude 
are incredulous of it. And if I have been more successful with 
you in my defense than I was with my Athenian judges, it is well. 

When Socrates had finished, Cebes replied to him, and said, 
I think that for the most part you are right, Socrates. But men 
iare very incredulous of what you have said of the soul. They 
jfear that she will no longer exist ajiy where when she has left the 
body, but that she will be destroyed and perish on the very day , 
of death. They think that the moment that she is released and 
leaves the body, she will be dissolved and vanish away like breath ! 
or smoke, and thenceforward ceasej^j^^ j^-alL If she were to j 
exist somewhere as a whole, released from the evils which you 
enumerated just now, we should have good reason to hope, 
Socrates, that what you say is true. But it will need no little 
persuasion and assurance to show that the soul exists after death, 
and continues to possess any power or wisdom. 

True, Cebes, said Socrates; but what are we to do? Do you 

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wish to converse about these matters and see if what I say is 

I for one, said Cebes, should gladly hear your opinion 
about them. 

I think, said Socrates, that no one who heard me now, even 
if he were a comic poet, would say that I am an idle talker about 
things which do not concern me. So, if you wish it, let us examine 
this question. 

Let us consider whether or not the souls of men exist in the 
next world after death, thus. There is an ancient belief, which we 
remember, that on leaving this world they exist there, and that 
they return hither and are born, again from the dead. But if it 
be true that the living are born from the dead, our souls must 
exist in the other world; otherwise they could not be born again. 
It will be a sufficient proof that this is so if we can really prove 
that the living are born only from the dead. But if this is not 
so, we shall have to find some other argument. 

Exactly, said Cebes. 

Well, said he, the easiest way of answering the question will 
be to consider it not in relation to men only, but also in relation 
to all animals and plants, and in short to all things that are 
generated. Is it the case that everything which has an opposite is 
generated only from its opposite? By opposites I mean the honor- 
able and the base, the just and the unjust, ancl so on in a thousand 
other instances. Let us consider then whether it is necessary for 
everything that has an opposite to be generated only from its own 
opposite. For instance, when anything becomes greater, I suppose 
it must first have been less and then become greater? 


And if a thing becomes less, it must have been greater, and 
afterward become less? 
That is so, said he. 

And further, the weaker is generated from the stronger, and 
the swifter from the slower? 

And the worse is generated from the better, and the more 
just from the more unjust? 

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Of course. 

Then it is sufficiently clear to us that all things are generated 
in this way, opposites from opposites? 
Quite so. 

And in every pair of o pppsite s. are there not two generations 
between the two members of the pair, from the one to the other, 
and then back again from the other to the first? Between the 
greater and the less are growth and diminution, and we say that 
the one grows and the other diminishes, do we not? 

Yes, he said. 

And there is division and composition, and cold and hot, 
and so on. In fact, is it not a universal law, even though we do 
not always express it in so many words, that op posi tes are gener- 
ated always from one another, and that there is a process of 
generation from one to the other? 

It is, he replied. 

Well, said he, is there an opposite to life, in the same way that XVI 
sleep is the opposite of being awake? 
Certainly, he answered. 
What is it? 

Death, he replied. 

Then if life and death are opposites, they are generated 
the one from the other: they are two, and between them there 
are two generations. Is it not so? 

Of course. 

Now, said Socrates, I will explain to you one of the two pairs 
of opposites of which I spoke just now, and its generations, and 
you shall explain to me the other. Sleep is the opposite of waking. 
From sleep is produced the state of waking, and from the state 
of waking is produced sleep. Their generations are, first, to fall 
asleep; secondly, to awake. Is that clear? he asked. 

Yes, quite. 

Now then, said he, do you tell me about life and death. Death 
is the opposite of life, is it not? 
It is. 

And they are generated the one from the other? 

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Then what is that which is generated from the living? 
The dead, he replied. 
And what is generated from the dead? 
I must admit that it is the living. R-^v 
Then living things and living men are generated from the dead, 
Cebes ? 

Clearly, said he. 

Then our souls exist in the other world? he said. 

Now of these two generations the one is certain? Death I 
suppose is certain enough, is it not? 
Yes, quite, he replied. 

What then shall we do? said he. Shall we not assign an 
opposite generation to correspond? Or is nature imperfect here? 
Must we not assign some opposite generation to dying? 

I think so, certainly, he said. 

And what must it be? 

To come to life again. 
72 And if there be such a thing as a return to life, he said, it 

will be a generation from the dead to the living, will it not? 

It will, certainly. 

Then we are agreed on this point: namely, that the living 
are generated from the dead no less than the dead from the living. 
But we agreed that, if this be so, it is a sufficient proof that the souls 
of the dead must exist somewhere, whence they come into being 

I think, Socrates, that that is the necessary result of our 

XVII And I think, Cebes, said he, that our conclusion has not 

been an unfair one. For if opposites did not always correspond 
with opposites as they are generated, moving as it were round in 
a circle, and there were generation in a straight line forward from 
one opposite only, with no turning or return to the other, then, 
you know, all things would come at length to have the same form 
and be in the same state, and would cease to be generated at all. 
What do you mean? he asked. 

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It is not at all hard to understand my meaning, he replied. 
If, for example, the one opposite, to go to sleep, existed without 
the corresponding opposite, to wake up, which is generated from 
the first, then all nature would at last make the tale of Endymion 
meaningless, and he would no longer be conspicuous; for every- 
thing else would be in the same state of sleep that he was in. 
And if all things were compounded together and never separated, 
the Chaos of Anaxagoras would soon be realized. Just in the 
same way, my dear Cebes, if all things in which there is any life 
were to die, and when they were dead were to remain in that form 
and not come to life again, would not the necessary result be that 
everything at last would be dead, and nothing alive? For if 
living things were generated from other sources than death, and 
were to die, the result is inevitable that all things would be 
consumed by death. Is it not so? 

It is indeed, I think, Socrates, said Cebes; I think that what 
you say is perfectly true. 

Yes, Cebes, he said, I think it is certainly so. We are not 
misled into this conclusion. The dead do come to life again, and 
the living are generated from them, and the souls of the dead exist; 
and with the souls of the good it is well, and with the souls of the 
evil it is evil. 

And besides, Socrates, rejoined Cebes, if the doctrine which XVIII 
you are fond of stating, that our learning is only a process of 
recollection, be true, then I suppose we must have learned at 
some former time what we recollejct now. And that would be 
impossible tinless^our souls had existed somewhere before they 
came into tMs^numan form. So that is another reason for 73 ^ 
believing the /Soul immortal. 

But, Cebes, Interrupted Simmias, what are the proofs of that? 
Recall them to me; I am not very clear about them at present. 

One argument, answered Cebes, and the strongest of all, is 
that if you question men about anything in the right way, they 
will answer you correctly of themselves. But they would not 
have been able to do that unless they had had within themselves 
knowledge and right reason. Again, show them such things as 

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geometrical diagrams, and the proof of the doctrine is complete.* 
And if that does not convince you, Simmias, said Socrates, 
look at the matter in another way and see if you agree then. 
You have doubts, I know, how what is called knowledge can be 

Nay, replied Simmias, I do not doubt. But I want to recollect 
the argument about recollection. What Cebes undertook to explain 
has nearly brought your theory back to me and convinced me. 
But I am nonetheless ready to hear you undertake to explain it. 

In this way, he returned. We are agreed, I suppose, that 
if a man remembers anything, he must have known it at some 
previous time. 

Certainly, he said. 

And are we agreed that when knowledge comes in the fol- 
lowing way, it is recollection? When a man has seen or heard 
anything, or has perceived it by some other sense, and then knows 
not that thing only, but has also in his mind an impression of some 
other thing, of which the knowledge is quite different, are we not 
right in saying that he remembers the thing of which he has an 
impression in his mind? 

What do you mean? 

I mean this. The knowledge of a man is different from 
the knowledge of a lyre, is it not? 

And you know that when lovers see a lyre, or a garment, 
or anything that their favorites are wont to use, they have this 
feeling. They know the lyre, and in their mind they receive the 
image of the youth whose the lyre was. That is recollection. For 
instance, someone seeing Simmias often is reminded of Cebes; 
and there are endless examples of the same thing. 

Indeed there are, said Simmias. 

•For an example of this see Mena 82a ff., where, as here, Socrates 
proves the doctrine of Reminiscence, and therefore the Immortality of the 
Soul, by putting judicious questions about geometry to a slave who was 
quite ignorant of geometry, and, with the help of diagrams, obtaining 
from him correct answers. 

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Is not that a kind of recollection, he said; and more especially 
when a man has this feeling with reference to things which the 
lapse of time and inattention have made him forget? 

Yes, certainly, he replied. 

Well, he went on, is it possible to recollect a man on seeing 
the picture of a horse, or the picture of a lyre? Or to recall Sim- 
mias on seeing a picture of Cebes? 


And it is possible to recollect Simmias himself on seeing 
a picture of Simmias? 

No doubt, he said. 74 

Then in all these cases there is recollection caused by similar XIX 
objects, and also by dissimilar objects? 

There is. 

But when a man has a recollection caused by similar objects, 
will he not have a further feeling and consider whether the like- 
ness to that which he recollects is defective in any way or not? 

He will, he said. 

Now see if this is true, he went on. Do we not believe in the 
existence of equality — not the equality of pieces of wood or of 
stones, but something beyond that — equality in the abstract? Shall 
we say that there is such a thing, or not? 

Yes indeed, said Simmias, most emphatically we will. 

And do we know what this abstract equality is? 

Certainly, he replied. 

Where did we get the knowledge of it? Was it not from seeing 
the equal pieces of wood, and stones, and the like, which we were 
speaking of just now? Did we not form from them the idea of 
abstract equality, which is different from them? Or do you think 
that it is not different? Consider the question in this way. Do 
not equal pieces of wood and stones appear to us sometimes equal 
and sometimes unequal, though in fact they remain the same all 
the time? 

Certainly they do. 

But did absolute equals ever seem to you to be unequal, or 
abstract equality to be inequality? 

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No, never, Socrates. 

Then equal things, he said, are not the same as abstract 

No, certainly not, Socrates. 

Yet it was from these equal things, he said, which are dif- 
ferent from abstract equality, that you have conceived and got 
your knowledge of abstract equality? 

That is quite true, he replied. 

And that whether it is like them or unlike them? 


But that makes no difference, he said. As long as the sight 
of one thing brings another thing to your mind, there must be 
recollection, whether or no the two things are like. 

That is so. 

Well then, said he, do the equal pieces of wood, and other 
similar equal things, of which we have been speaking, affect us at 
all this way? Do they seem to us to be equal, in the way that 
abstract equality is equal? Do they come short of being like 
abstract equality, or not? 

Indeed, they come very short of it, he replied. 

Are we agreed about this? A man sees something and thinks 
to himself, "This thing that I see aims at being like some other 
thing, but it comes short and cannot be like that other thing; 
it is inferior"; must not the man who thinks that have known 
at some previous time that other thing, which he says that it 
resembles, and to which it is inferior? 

He must. 

Well, have we ourselves had the same sort of feeling with 
reference to equal things, and to abstract equality? 
Yes, certainly. 

Then we must have had knowledge of equality before we first 
saw equal things, and perceived that they all strive to be like 
equality, and all come short of it. 

That is so. 

And we are agreed also that we have not, nor could we have, 
obtained the idea of equality except from sight or touch or some 

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other sense; the same is true of all the senses. 

Yes, Socrates, for the purposes of the argument that is so. 

At any rate it is by the senses that we must perceive that all 
sensible objects strive to resemble absolute equality, and are 
inferior to it. Is not that so? 


Then before we began to see, and to hear, and to use the 
other senses, we must have received the knowledge of the nature 
of abstract and real equality; otherwise we could not have com- 
pared equal sensible objects with abstract equality, and seen that 
the former in all cases strive to be like the latter, though they are 
always inferior to it? 

That is the necessary consequence of what we have been 
saying, Socrates. 

Did we not see, and hear, and possess the other senses as 
soon as we were born? 

Yes, certainly. 

And we must have received the knowledge of abstract equal- 
ity before we had these senses? 

Then, it seems, we must have received that knowledge before 
we were born? 
It does. 

Now if we received this knowledge before our birth, and 
were born with it, we knew, both before and at the moment of 
our birth, not only the equal, and the greater, and the less, but 
also everything of the same kind, did we not? Our present 
reasoning does not refer only to equality. It refers just as much 
to absolute good, and absolute beauty, and absolute justice, and 
absolute holiness; in short, I repeat, to everything which we mark 
with the name of the real, in the questions and answers of our 
dialectic. So we must have received our knowledge of all realities 
before we were born. 

That is so. 

And we must always be born with this knowledge, and must 
always retain it throughout life, if we have not each time for- 

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gotten it, after having received it. For to know means to receive 
and retain knowledge, and not to have lost it. Do not we mean 
by forgetting, the loss of knowledge, Simmias? 
Yes, certainly, Socrates, he said. 

But, I suppose, if it be the case that we lost at birth the knowl- 
edge which we received before we were born, and then afterward, 
by using our senses on the objects of sense, recovered the 
knowledge which we had previously possessed, then what we call 
learning is the recovering of knowledge which is already ours. 
And are we not right in calling that recollection? 


76 For we have found it possible to perceive a thing by sight, 

or hearing, or any other sense, and thence to form a notion of 
some other thing, like or unlike, which had been forgotten, but 
with which this thing was associated. And therefore, I say, one 
of two things must be true. Either we are all born with this knowl- 
edge and retain it all our life; or, after birth, those whom we say 
are learning are only recollecting, and our knowledge is recol- 

Yes indeed, that is undoubtedly true, Socrates. 
XXI Then which do you choose, Simmias? Are we born with 

knowledge or do we recollect the things of which we have received 
knowledge before our birth? 

I cannot say at present, Socrates. 

Well, have you an opinion about this question? Can a man 
who knows give an account of what he knows, or not? What do 
you think about that? 

Yes, of course he can, Socrates. 

And do you think that everyone can give an account of the 
ideas of which we have been speaking? 

I wish I did, indeed, said Simmias, but I am very much 
afraid that by this time tomorrow there will no longer be any 
man living able to do so as it should be done. 

Then, Simmias, he said, you do not think that all men know 
these things? 

Certainly not. 

Then they recoiled what they once learned? 

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And when did our souls gain this knowledge? It cannot 
have been after we were born men. 
No, certainly not. 
Then it was before? 

Then, Simmias, our souls existed formerly, apart from our 
bodies, and possessed intelligence before they came into man's 
shape. 4 

Unless we receive this knowledge at the moment of birth, 
Socrates. That time still remains. 

Well, my friend, and at what other time do we lose it? We 
agreed just now that w T e are not born with it; do we lose it at 
the same moment that we gain it, or can you suggest any other 

I cannot, Socrates. I did not see that I was talking nonsense. 

Then, Simmias, he said, is not this the truth? If, as we are 
forever repeating, beauty, and good, and the other ideas 5 really 
exist, and if we refer all the objects of sensible perception to 
these ideas which were formerly ours, and which we find to be 
ours still, and compare sensible objects with them, then, just as 
they exist, our souls must have existed before ever we were born. 
But if they do not exist, then our reasoning will have been 
thrown away. Is it so? If these ideas exist, does it not at once 
follow that our souls must have existed before we were born, and 
if they do not exist, then neither did our souls? 

Admirably put, Socrates, said Simmias. I think that the 
necessity is the same for the one as for the other. The reasoning 
has reached a place of safety in the common proof of the existence 
of our souls before we were born and of the existence of the 

4 Cf. Wordsworth's famous Ode on Intimations of Immortality. It must 
be noticed that in one respect Wordsworth exactly reverses Plato's theory. 
With Wordsworth "Heaven lies about us in our infancy," and as we 
grow to manhood we gradually forget it. With Plato, we lose the knowl- 
edge which we possessed in a prior state of existence, at birth, and recover 
it, as we grow up. 

6 For a fuller account of the ideas, see 100b ff. 

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ideas of which you spoke. Nothing is so evident to me as that 
beauty, and good, and the other ideas which you spoke of just 
now have a very real existence indeed. Your proof is quite suf- 
ficient for me. 

But what of Cebes? said Socrates. I must convince Cebes 


I think that he is satisfied, said Simmias, though he is the 
most skeptical of men in argument. But I think that he is per- 
fectly convinced that our souls existed before we were born. 

But I do not think myself. Socrates, he continuedj^rfiat you 
have proved that the soul will continue to exist when we are dead. 
The common fear which Cebes spoke of, that she may be scattered 
to the winds at death, and that death may be the end of her exist- 
ence, still stands in the way. Assuming that the soul is generated 
and comes together from some other elements, and exist s befor e 
she ever enters the human body, why should she nc^come to an 
end and be destroyed, after she has entered into the body, when 
she is released from it? 

You_are right, Simmias, said Cebes. I think that only half the 
required proof has been given. It has been shown that our souls 
existed before we were born; b ut it m u st also be shown that ou r 
souls will continue to exist after we are dead, no less than that 
they existed before we were born, if the proof is to be complete. 

That has been shown already, Simmias and Cebes, said 
Socrates, if you will combine this reasoning with our previous 
conclusion, that all life is generated from. death. For if the soul 
exists in a previous state and if, when she comes into life and 
is born^ she can only be born from death, and from a state of 
death, must she not exist after death too, since she has to be 
born again? So the point which you speak of has been already 

Still I think that you and Simmias would be glad to discuss 
this question further. Like children, you are afraid that the wind 
will really blow the soul away and disperse her when she leaves 
the body, especially if a man happens to die in a storm and not 
in a calm. 

Cebes laughed and said, Try and convince us as if we were 

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afraid, Socrates; or rather, do not think that we are afraid our- 
selves. Perhaps there is a child within us who has these fears. 
Let us try and persuade him not to be afraid of death, as if it 
were a bugbear. 

You must charm him every day, until you have charmed him 
away, said Socrates. 

And where shall we find a good charmer, Socrates, he asked, 
now that you are leaving us? 

Hellas is a large country, Cebes, he replied, and good men 
may doubtless be found in it; and the nations of the Barbarians 
are many. You must search them all through for such a charmer, 
sparing neither money nor labor; for there is nothing on which 
you could spend money more profitably. And you must search 
for him among yourselves too, for you will hardly find a better 
charmer than yourselves. 

That shall be done, said Cebes. But let us return to the point 
where we left off, if you will. 

Yes, I will: why not? 

Very good, he replied. 

Well, said Socrates, must we not ask ourselves this question? 
What kind of thing is liable to suffer dispersion, and for what kind 
of thing have we to fear dispersion? And then we must see 
whether the soul belongs to that kind or not, and be confident 
or afraid about our own souls accordingly. 

That is true* he answered. 

Now is it not the com pound and composite which is naturally 
liable to be dissolved in the same way in which it was com- 
pounded? And is not what is uncompounded alone not liable to 
dissolution, if anything is not? 

I think that that is so, said Cebes. 

And what always remains in the same state and unchanging 
is most likely to be uncompounded, and what is always changing 
and never the same is most likely to be compounded, I suppose? 

Yes, I think so. 

Now let us return to what we were speaking of before in the 
discussion, he said. Does the being, which in our dialectic we 
define as meaning absolute existence, remain always in exactly 

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the same state, or does it change? Do absolute equality, absolute 
beauty, and every other absolute existence, admit of any change 
at all? Or does absolute existence in each case, being essentially 
uniform, remain the same and unchanging, and never in any case 
admit of any sort or kind of change whatsoever? 

It must remain the same and unchanging, Socrates, said Cebes. 

And what of the many beautiful things, such as men, and 
horses, and garments, and the like, and of all which bears the 
names of the ideas, whether equal, or beautiful, or anything else? 
Do they remain the same or is it exactly the opposite with them? 
In short, do they never remain the same at all, either in themselves 
or in their relations? 

These things, said Cebes, never remain the same. 

You can touch them, and see them, and perceive them with 
the other senses, while you can grasp the unchanging only by 
the reasoning of the intellect. These latter are invisible and not 
seen. Is it not so? 

That is perfectly true, he said. 

Let us assume then, he said, if you will, that there are two 
kinds of existence, the one visible, the other invisible. 
Yes, he said. 

And the invisible is unchanging, while the visible is always 

Yes, he said again. 

Are not we men made up of body and soul? 
There is nothing else, he replied. 

And which of these kinds of existence should we say that 
the body is most like, and most akin to? 

The visible, he replied; that is quite obvious. 

And the soul? Is that visible or invisible? 

It is invisible to man, Socrates, he said. 

But we mean by visible and invisible, visible and invisible 
to man; do we not? 

Yes ; that is what we mean. 

Then what do we say of the soul? Is it visible or not visible? 
It is not visible. 
Then is it invisible? 

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Then the soul is more like the invisible than the body; and 
the body is like the visible. 

That is necessarily so, Socrates. 

Have we not also said that, when the soul employs the body 
in any inquiry, and makes use of sight, or hearing, or any other 
sense — for inquiry with the body means inquiry with the senses — 
she is dragged away by it to the things which never remain the 
same, and wanders about blindly, and becomes confused and dizzy, 
like a drunken man, from dealing with things that are ever 


But when she investigates any question by herself, she goes 
away to the pure, and eternal, and immortal, and unchangeable, to 
which she is aKin~ and so she comes to be ever with it, as soon 
las she is by herself, and can be so; and then she rests from her 
wanderings and dwells with it unchangingly, for she is dealing 
with what is unchanging. And is not this state of the soul called 
wisdom ? 

Indeed, Socrates, you speak well and truly, he replied. 

Which kind of existence do you think from our former and 
our present arguments that the soul is more like and more akin to? 

I think, Socrates, he replied, that after this inquiry the very 
dullest man would agree that the soul is infinitely more like the 
unchangeable than the changeable. 

And the body? 

That is like the changeable. 

Consider the matter in yet another way. When the soul 
and the body are united , nature ordains the one to be a slave 
and to be ruled, and the other to be master and to rule. Tell 
me once again, which do you think is like the divine, and which 
is like the mortal? Do you not think that the divine naturally rules 
and has authority, and that the mortal naturally is ruled and 
is a slave? 

I do. 

Then which is the soul like? ^ 
/ That is quite plain, Socrates. The soul is like the divine, 
and the body is like the mortal. 

Now tell me, Cebes, is the result of all that we have said 

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that the^soul is most like the divine, and the immortal, and the 
intelligible, and the uniform, and the indissoluble, and the un- 
changeable; while the body is most like the human, and the mortal, 
and the unintelligible, and the multiform, and the dissoluble, and 
the changeable? Have we any other argument to show that 
this is not so, my dear Cebes? 
We have not. 

XXIX Then if this is so, is it not the nature of the body to be 

dissolved quickly, and of the soul to be wholly or very nearly 
indissoluble? 6 

You observe, he said, that after a man is dead, the visible 
►art of him, his bpdy, which lies in the visible world and which 
e call the corpse, which is s ubject t o dissolution and decomposi- 
tion, is not dissolved and decomposed at once? It remains as it 
was for a considerable time, and even for a long time, if a man 
dies with his body in good condition and in the vigor of life. 
And when the body falls in and is embalmed, like the mummies 
J of Egypt, it remains nearly entire for an immense time. And 
should it decay, yet some parts of it, such as the bones and 
muscles, may almost be said to be immortal. Is it not so? 

And shall we believe that the soul, which is invisible, and 
< which goes hence to a place that is like herself, glorious, and 
; pure, and invisible, to Hades, which is rightly called the unseen 
world, to dwell with the good and wise God, whither, if it be 
the will of God, my soul too must shortly go — shall we believe that 
ithe soul, whose nature is so glorious, and pure, and invisible, is 
I blown away by the winds and perishes as soon as she leaves the 
body, as the world says? Nay, dear Cebes and Simmias, it is not 
so. I will tell you what happens to a soul which is pure at her 
departure, and which in her life has had no intercourse that she 

6 Compare Bishop Butler's Analogy, Pt. I, Ch. I, where a similar argu- 
ment is used : the soul being indiscerptible is immortal. The argument 
based on the "divine" nature of the soul is, of course, also a modern one. 
See e.g. Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam, LIY-LVI. 

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could avoid with the body, and so draws after her, when she 
dies, no taint of the body, but has shunned it, and gathered herself 
into herself, for such has been her constant study — and that only 
means that she has loved wisdom rightly, and has truly practiced 
how to die. Is not this the practice of death? 
Yes, certainly. 

Does not the soul, then, which is in that state, go away to the 
invisible that is like herself, and to the divine, and the immortal, 
and the wise, where she is released from error, and folly, and fear, 
and fierce passions, and all the other evils that fall to the lot of men, 
and is happy, and for the rest of time lives in very truth with the 
gods, as they say that the initiated do? Shall we affirm this, Cebes? 

Yes, certainly, said Cebes. 

But if she be defiled and impure when she leaves the body, 
from being ever with it, and serving it and loving it, and from 
being besotted by it and by its desires and pleasures, so that she 
thinks nothing true but what is bodily and can be touched, and 
seen, and eaten, and drunk, and used for men's lusts; if she has 
learned to hate, and tremble at, and fly from what is dark and 
invisible to the eye, and intelligible and apprehended by philosophy 
— do you think that a soul which is in that state will be pure and 
without alloy at her departure? 

No, indeed, he replied. 

She is penetrated, I suppose, by the corporeal, which the 
unceasing intercourse and company and care of the body has made 
a part of her nature. 


And, my dear friend, the corporeal must be burdensome, and 
heavy, and earthy, and visible ; and it is by this that such a soul is 
weighed down and dragged back to the visible world, because she 
is afraid of the invisible world of Hades, and haunts, it is said, the 
graves and tombs, where shadowy forms of souls have been seen, 
which are the phantoms of souls which were impure at their release 
and still cling to the visible; which is the reason why they are seen. 7 

7 Professor Jowett compares Milton, Comus, 463 ff. 

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That is likely enough, Socrates. 

That is likely, certainly, Cebes; and these areji ot the souls 
of the good, but of the evil, which are compelled to wander in such 
. places as a punishment for the wicked lives that they have lived; 
J and their wanderings continue until, from the desire for the 
\ corporeal that clings to them, they are again imprisoned in a body. 

^And, he continued, they aTe ^SjS&SSSS^^ probably, in the 
{bodies of animals with habits similar to the habits whicL^gre 
theirs in their lifetime. 

What do you mean by that, Socrates? 

I mean that men who have practiced unbridled gluttony, 
and wantonness, and drunkenness probably enter the bodies of 
82 asses and suchlike animals. Do you not think so? 
Certainly that is very likely. 

And those who have chosen injustice, and tyranny, and 
robbery enter- ..theJbodies of wolves, and hawks, and kites. Where 
else should we say that such souls go? 

No doubt, said Cebes, they go into such animals. 

In short, it is quite plain ; he said, whither each soul goes; 
, each enters an animal with habits like its own. 

Certainly, he replied, that is so. 

And of these, he said, the happiest, who go to the best place, 
are those who have practiced the popular and social virtues which 
are called temperance and justice, and which come from habit 
and practice, without philosophy or reason. 

And why are they the happiest? 

Because it is probable that they return into a mild and social 
nature like their own, such as that of bees, or wasps, or ants; 
or, it may be, into the bodies of men, and that from them are made 
worthy citizens, 

Very likely. // _ 
XXXII But none but the philosopher or the lover of knowledge, who 

is wholly pure when he goes hence, is permitted to go to the 
jl raetrgf the gods ; and therefore, my friends, Simmias and Cebes, 
the true philosopher is temperate and refrains from all the pleas- 
ures of the body, and does not give himself up to them. It is 
not squandering his substance and poverty that he fears, as the 

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multitude and the lovers of wealth do; nor again does he dread 
the dishonor and disgrace of wickedness, like the lovers of power 
and honor. It is not for these reasons that he is temperate. 

No, it would be unseemly in him if he were, Socrates, said 

Indeed it would, he replied, and therefore all those who have 
any care for their souls, and who do not spend their lives in 
forming and molding their bodies, bid farewell to such persons, 
and do not walk in their ways, thinking that they know not whither 
they are going. They themselves turn and follow whithersoever 
philosophy leads them, for they believe that they ought not to resist 
philosophy, or its deliverance and purification. 

How, Socrates? 

I will tell you, he replied. The lovers of knowledge know 
that when philosophy receives the soul, she is iast bound in the 
body, and fastened to it; she is unable to contemplate what is, by 
herself, or except through the bars of her prison house, the body ; 
and she is wallowing in utter ignorance. And philosophy sees 
that the dreadful thing about the imprisonment is that it is 
caused by lust, and that the captive herself is an accomplice 
in her own captivity. The lovers of knowledge, I repeat, know 
that philosophy takes the soul when she is in this condition, and 
gently encourages her, and strives to release her from her captivity, 
showing her that the perceptions of the eye, and the ear, and the 
other senses are full of deceit, and persuading her to stand aloof 
from the senses and to use them only when she must, and exhort- 
ing her to rally and gather herself together, and to trust only to 
herself and to the real existence which she of her own self appre- 
hends, and to believe that nothing which is subject to change, and 
which she perceives by other faculties, has any truth, for such 
things are visible and sensible, while what she herself sees is ap- 
prehended by reason and invisible. The soul of the true philosopher 
thinks that it would be wrong to resist this deliverance from 
captivity, and therefore she holds aloof, so far as she can, from 
pleasure, and desire, and pain, and fear; for she reckons that 
when a man has vehement pleasure, or fear, or pain, or desire, he 
suffers from them not merely the evils which might be expected, 

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such as sickness or some loss arising from the indulgence of his 
desires; he suffers what is the greatest and last of evils, and does 
not take it into account. 

What do you mean, Socrates? asked Cebes. 

I mean that when the soul of any man feels-vehement pleas- 
ure or pain, she is forced at the same time to think that the object, 
whatever it be, of these sensations is the most distinct and truest, 
when it is not. Such objects are chiefly visible ones, are they not? 

They are. 

And is it not in this state that the soul is most completely in 
bondage to the body? 
How so? 

Because every pleasure and pain has a kind of nail, and 
nails and pins her to the body, and gives her a bodily nature, 
making her think that whatever the body says is true. And so, 
from having the same fancies and the same pleasures as the body, 
she is obliged, I suppose, to come to have the same ways, and way 
of life: she must always be defiled with the body when she 
leaves it, and cannot be pure when she reaches the other world; 
and so she soon falls back into another body and takes root in 
it, like seed that is sown. Therefore she loses all part in intercourse 
with the divine, and pure, and uniform. 

That is very true, Socrates, said Cebes. 

It is for these reasons then, Cebes, that the real lovers of 
knowledge are temperate and brave; and not for the world's 
reasons. Or do you think so? 

No, certainly I do not. 

Assuredly not. 8 The soul of a philosopher will consider that 
it is the office of philosophy to set her free. She will know that 
she must not give herself up once more to the bondage of pleasure 
and pain, from which philosophy is releasing her, and, like 
Penelope, do a work, only to undo it continually, weaving instead 
of unweaving her web. She gains for herself peace from these 
things, and follows reason and ever abides in it, contemplating 
what is true and divine and real, and fostered up by them. So 

8 Reading, ou y&p* with Stallbaum. 

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she thinks that she should live in this life, and when she dies she 
believes that she will go to what is akin to and like herself, and 
be released from human ills. A .soul, Simmias and Cebes, that has 
been so nurtured and so trained will never fear lest she should 
be torn in pieces at her departure from the body, and blown away 
by the winds, and vanish, and exist. 

At these words there was a long silence. Socrates himself XXXV 
seemed to be absorbed in his argument, and so were most of us. 
Cebes and Simmias conversed for a little by themselves. When 
Socrates observed them, he said: What? Do you think that our 
reasoning is incomplete? It still offers many points of doubt and 
attack, if it is to be examined thoroughly. If you are discussing 
another question, I have nothing to say. But if you have any 
difficulty about this one, do not hesitate to tell me what it is, and, 
if you are of the opinion that the argument should be stated in a 
better way, explain your views yourselves, and take me along 
with you if you think that you will be more successful in my 

Simmias replied: Well, Socrates, I will tell you the truth. 
Each of us has a difficulty, and each has been pushing on the 
other and urging him to ask you about it. We were anxious 
to hear what you have to say; but we were reluctant to trouble 
you, for we were afraid that it might be unpleasant to you to 
be asked questions now. 

Socrates smiled at this answer and said, Dear me! Simmias; 
I shall find it hard to convince other people that I do not consider 
my fate a misfortune when I cannot convince even you of it, 
and you are afraid that I am more peevish now than I used to 
be. You seem to think me inferior in prophetic power to the 
swans, which, when they find that they have to die, sing more 
loudly than they ever sang before, for joy that they are about 85 
to depart into the presence of God, whose servants they are. The 
fear which men have of death themselves makes them speak falsely 
of the swans, and they say that the swan is wailing at its death, 
and that it sings loud for grief. They forget that no bird sings 
when it is hungry, or cold, or in any pain; not even the night- 
ingale, nor the swallow, nor the hoopoe, which, they assert, wail 

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and sing for grief. But I think that neither these birds nor the 
swan sing for grief. I believe that they have a prophetic power 
and foreknowledge of the good things in the next world, for 
they are Apollo's birds; and so they sing and rejoice on the day of 
their death, more than in all their life. And I believe that I 
myself am a fellow slave with the swans, and consecrated to the 
service of the same God, and that I have prophetic power from 
my master no less than they, and that I am not more despondent 
than they are at leaving this life. So, as far as vexing me goes, 
you may talk to me and ask questions as you please, as long 
as the Eleven of the Athenians 9 will let you. 

Good, said Simmias; I will tell you my difficulty, and Cebes 
will tell you why he is dissatisfied with your statement. I think, 
Socrates, and I daresay you think so too, that it is very difficult, 
and perhaps impossible, to obtain clear knowledge about these 
matters in this life. Yet I should hold him to be a very poor 
creature who did not test what is said about them in every way, 
and persevere until he had examined the question from every side, 
and could do no more. It is our duty to do one of two things. 
We must learn, or we must discover for ourselves, the truth of these 
matters; or, if that be impossible, we must take the best and most 
irrefragable of human doctrines and, embarking on that, as on 
a raft, risk the voyage of life, 10 unless a stronger vessel, some 
divine word, could be found, on which we might take our journey 
more safely and more securely. And now, after what you have 
said, I shall not be ashamed to put a question to you; and then 
I shall not have to blame myself hereafter for not having said now 
what I think. Cebes and I have been considering your argument, 
and we think that it is hardly sufficient. 

I daresay you are right, my friend, said Socrates. But tell 
me, where is it insufficient? 

To me it is insufficient, he replied, because the very same 
argument might be used of a harmony, and a lyre, and its 
strings. It might be said that the harmony in a tuned lyre is 

9 Officials whose duty it was to superintend executions. Cf. 59e. 

10 See Bishop Butler's Analogy, Introduction. 

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something unseen, and incorporeal, and perfectly beautiful, and 
divine, while the lyre and its strings are corporeal, and with the 86 
nature of bodies, and compounded, and earthly, and akin to the 
mortal. Now suppose that, when the lyre is broken and the strings 
are cut or snapped, a man were to press the same argument that 
you have used, and were to say that the harmony cannot have 
perished and that it must still exist, for it cannot possibly be 
that the lyre and the strings, with their mortal nature, continue 
to exist, though those strings have been broken, while the harmony, 
which is of the same nature as the divine and th«4rnmertal, and akin 
to them, has perished, and perished before the mortal lyre. He would 
say that the harmony itself must still exist somewhere, and, that the 
wood and the strings will rot away before anything happens to it. 
And I think, Socrates, that you too must be aware that many of us 
believe the soul to be most probably a mixture and harmony 
of the elements by which our body is, as it were, strung and held 
together, such as heat and cold, and dry and wet, and the like, when 
they are mixed together well and in due proportion. Now if the 
soul is a harmony, it is clear that, when the body is relaxed out 
of proportion, or overstrung by disease or other evils, the soul, 
though most divine, must perish at once, like other harmonies of 
sound and of all works of art, while what remains of each body 
must remain for a long time, until it be burned or rotted away. 
What then shall we say to a man who asserts that the soul, being 
a mixture of the elements of the body, perishes first at what is 
called death? 

Socrates looked keenly at us, as he often used to do, and XXXVII 
smiled. Simmias' objection is a fair one, he said. If any of you 
is readier than I am, why does he not answer? For Simmias looks 
like a formidable assailant. But before we answer him, I think 
that we had better hear what fault Cebes has to find with my 
reasoning, and so gain time to consider our reply. And then, when 
we have heard them both, we must either give in to them, if they 
seem to harmonize, or, if they do not, we must proceed to argue in 
defense of our reasoning. Come, Cebes, what is it that troubles 
you and makes you doubt? 

I will tell you, replied Cebes. I think that the argument is 

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just where it was, and still open to our former objection. You 
have shown very cleverly and, if it is not arrogant to say so, 
quite conclusively that our souls existed before they entered the 
human form. I don't retract my admission on that point. But I 
am not convinced that they will continue to exist after we are dead. 
I do not agree with Simmias' objection, that the soul is not stronger 
and more lasting than the body: I think that it is very much 
superior in those respects. "Well, then," the argument might reply, 
"do you still doubt, when you see that the weaker part of a man 
continues to exist after his death? Do you not think that the more 
lasting part of him must necessarily be preserved for as long?" 
See, therefore, if there is anything in what I say; for I think that 
I, like Simmias, shall best express my meaning in a figure. It 
seems to me that a man might use an argument similar to yours 
to prove that a weaver, who had died in old age, had not in 
fact perished, but was still alive somewhere, on the ground that 
the garment which the weaver had woven for himself and used 
to wear had not perished or been destroyed. And if anyone 
were incredulous, he might ask whether a human being, or a 
garment constantly in use and wear, lasts the longest; and on 
being told that a human being lasts much the longest, he might 
think that he had shown beyond all doubt that the man was safe, 
because what lasts a shorter time than the man had not perished. 
But that, I suppose, is not so, Simmias; for you too must examine 
what I say. Everyone would understand that such an argument 
was simple nonsense. This weaver wove himself many such 
garments and wore them out; he outlived them all but the last, 
but he perished before that one. Yet a man is in no wise inferior 
1 to his cloak, or weaker than it, on that account. And I think that 
the soul's relation to the body may be expressed in a similar 
figure. Why should not a man very reasonably say in just the 
same way that the soul lasts a long time, while the body is weaker 
and lasts a shorter time? But, he might go on, each soul wears 
out many bodies, especially if she lives for many years. For if 
the body is in a state of flux and decay in the man's lifetime, 
and the soul is ever repairing the worn-out part, it will surely follow 
that the soul, on perishing, will be clothed in her last robe, and 

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perish before that alone. But when the soul has perished, then 
the body will show its weakness and quickly rot away. So as yet 
we have no right to be confident, on the strength of this argu- 
ment, that our souls continue to exist after we are dead. And 
a man might concede even more than this to an opponent who 
used your argument; 11 he might admit not only that our souls 
existed in the period before we were born, but also that there 
is no reason why some of them should not continue to exist in 
the future, and often come into being, and die again, after we 
are dead; for the soul is strong enough by nature to endure 
coming into being many times. He might grant that, without 
conceding that she suffers no harm in all these births, or that 
she is not at last wholly destroyed at one of the deaths; and he 
might say that no man knows when this death and dissolution of 
the body, which brings destruction to the soul, will be, for it is 
impossible for any man to find out that. But if this is true, a 
man's confidence about death must be an irrational confidence, 
unless he can prove that the soul is wholly indestructible and im- 
mortal. Otherwise everyone who is dying must fear that his soul 
will perish utterly this time in her separation from the body. 

It made us all very uncomfortable to listen to them, as we 
afterward said to each other. We had been fully convinced by 
the previous argument; and now they seemed to overturn our 
conviction, and to make us distrust all the arguments that were 
to come, as well as the preceding ones, and to doubt if our judg- 
ment was worth anything, or even if certainty could be attained 
at all. 

Ech. By the gods, Phaedo, I can understand your feelings 
very well. I myself felt inclined while you were speaking to ask 
myself, "Then what reasoning are we to believe in future? That 
of Socrates was quite convincing, and now it has fallen into dis- 
credit." For the doctrine that our soul is a harmony has always 
taken a wonderful hold of me, and your mentioning it reminded 
me that I myself had held it. And now I must begin again and 
find some other reasoning which shall convince me that a man's 

11 Reading tco teyovrt & avT^yeiS (Schanz) . 

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soul does not die with him at his death. So tell me, I pray you, 
how did Socrates pursue the argument? Did he show any signs 
of uneasiness, as you say that you did, or did he come to the 
defense of his argument calmly? And did he defend it satisfactorily 
or not? Tell me the whole story as exactly as you can. 
89 Phaedo. I have often, Echecrates, wondered at Socrates; but 

I never admired him more than I admired him then. There was 
nothing very strange in his having an answer. What I chiefly 
wondered at was, first, the kindness and good nature and respect 
with which he listened to the young men's objections; and, 
secondly, the quickness with which he perceived their effect upon 
us; and, lastly, how well he healed our wounds, and rallied us 
as if we were beaten and flying troops, and encouraged us to follow 
him, and to examine the reasoning with him. 
Ech. How? 

Phaedo. I will tell you. I was sitting by the bed on a stool 
/ at his right hand, and his seat was a good deal higher than mine. 
He stroked my head and gathered up the hair on my neck in 
his hand — you know he used often to play with my hair — and said, 
Tomorrow, Phaedo, I daresay you will cut off these beautiful locks. 

I suppose so, Socrates, I replied. 

You will not, if you take my advice. 

Why not? I asked. 

You and I will cut off our hair today, he said, if our argument 
be dead indeed, and we cannot bring it to life again. And I, if 
I were you, and the argument were to escape me, would swear 
an oath, as the Argives did, not to wear my hair long again until 
I had renewed the fight and conquered the argument of Simmias 
and Cebes. 

But Heracles himself, they say, is not a match for two, I 

Then summon me to aid you, as your Iolaus, while there is 
still light. 

Then I summon you, not as Heracles summoned Iolaus, but 
as Iolaus might summon Heracles. 
CIX It will be the same, he replied. But first let us take care 
not to make a mistake. 

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What mistake? I asked. 

The mistake of becoming misologists, or haters of reasoning, 
as men become misanthropists, he replied; for to hate reasoning 
is the greatest evil that can happen to us. Misology and mis- 
anthropy both come from similar causes. The latter arises out 
of the implicit and irrational confidence which is placed in a man 
who is believed by his friend to be thoroughly true and sincere 
and trustworthy, and who is soon afterward discovered to be a 
bad man and untrustworthy. This happens again and again; 
and when a man has had this experience many times, particularly 
at the hands of those whom he has believed to be his nearest 
and dearest friends, and he has quarrelled with many of them, 
he ends by hating all men and thinking that there is no good 
at all in anyone. Have you not seen this happen? 

Yes, certainly, said I. 

Is it not discreditable? he said. Is it not clear that such a 
man tries to deal with men without understanding human nature? 
Had he understood it he would have known that, in fact, good 
men and bad men are very few indeed, and that the majority of 
men are neither one nor the other. 

What do you mean? I asked. 

Just what is true of extremely large and extremely small 
things, he replied. What is rarer than to find a man, or a dog, 
or anything else which is either extremely large or extremely 
small? Or again, what is rarer than to find a man who is extremely 
swift or slow, or extremely base or honorable, or extremely black 
or white? Have you not noticed that in all these cases the extremes 
are rare and few, and that the average specimens are abundant 
and many? 

Yes, certainly, I replied. 

And in the same way, if there were a competition in wick- 
edness, he said, don't you think that the leading sinners would 
be found to be very few? 

That is likely enough, said I. 

Yes, it is, he replied. But this is not the point in which 
arguments are like men; it was you who led me on to discuss 
this point. The analogy is this. When a man believes some 

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reasoning to be true, though he does not understand the art of 
reasoning, and then soon afterward, rightly or wrongly, comes 
to think that it is false, and this happens to him time after time, 
he ends by disbelieving in reasoning altogether. You know that 
persons who spend their time in disputation, come at last to think 
themselves the wisest of men, and to imagine that they alone 
have discovered that there is no soundness or certainty anywhere, 
either in reasoning or in things, and that all existence is in a 
state of perpetual flux, like the currents of the Euripus, and never 
remains still for a moment. 

Yes, I replied, that is certainly true. 

And, Phaedo, he said, if there be a system of reasoning 
which is true, and certain, and which our minds can grasp, it 
would be very lamentable that a man who has met with some of 
these arguments which at one time seem true and at another 
false should at last, in the bitterness of his heart, gladly put all 
the blame on the reasoning, instead of on himself and his own 
unskillfulness, and spend the rest of his life in hating and reviling 
reasoning, and lose the truth and knowledge of reality. 
Indeed, I replied, that would be very lamentable. 

XL First then, he said, let us be careful not to admit into our 

souls the notion that all reasoning is very likely unsound; let us 
rather think that we ourselves are not yet sound. And we must 
strive earnestly like men to become sound, you, my friends, for 
the sake of all your future life, and I, because of my death. For 

91 I am afraid that at present I can hardly look at death like a 
philosopher; I am in a contentious mood, like the uneducated 
persons who never give a thought to the truth of the question 
about which they are disputing, but are only anxious to per- 
suade their audience that they themselves are right. And I think 
that today I shall differ from them only in one thing. I shall 
not be anxious to persuade my audience that I am right, except 
by the way; but I shall be very anxious indeed to persuade 
myself. For see, my dear friend, how selfish my reasoning is. 
If what I say is true, it is well to believe it. But if there is 
nothing after death, at any rate I shall pain my friends less by 
my lamentations in the interval before I die. And this ignorance 

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will not last forever — that would have been an evil — it will soon 
come to an end. So prepared, Simmias and Cebes, he said, I 
come to the argument. And you, if you take my advice, will 
think not of Socrates, but of the truth; and you will agree with 
me if you think that what I say is true; otherwise you will oppose 
me with every argument that you have; and be careful that, in 
my anxiety to convince you, I do not deceive both you and myself, 
and go away, leaving my sting behind me, like a bee. 

Now let us proceed, he said. And first, if you find I have XLI 
forgotten your arguments, repeat them. Simmias, I think, has 
fears and misgivings that the soul, being of the nature of a 
harmony, may perish before the body, though she is more divine 
and nobler than the body. Cebes, if I am not mistaken, conceded 
that the soul is more enduring than the body; but he said that 
no one could tell whether the soul, after wearing out many bodies 
many times, did not herself perish on leaving her last body, and 
whether death be not precisely this — the destruction of the soul; 
for the destruction of the body is unceasing. Is there anything / 
else, Simmias and Cebes, which we have to examine? 
They both agreed that these were the questions. 
Do you reject all our previous conclusions, he asked, or only 
some of them? 

Only some of them, they replied. 

Well, said he, what do you say of our doctrine that knowledge 
is recollection, and that therefore our souls must necessarily have 
existed somewhere else, before they were imprisoned in our bodies? 92 

I, replied Cebes, was convinced by it at the time in a 
wonderful way; and now there is no doctrine to which I adhere 
more firmly. 

And I am of that mind too, said Simmias; and I shall be very 
much surprised if I ever change it. 

But, my Theban friend, you will have to change it, said 
Socrates, if this opinion of yours, that a harmony is a composite 
thing, and that the soul is a harmony composed of the elements 
of the body at the right tension, is to stand. You will hardly 
allow yourself to assert that the harmony was in existence before 
the things from which it was to be composed? Will you do that? 

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Certainly not, Socrates. 

But you see that that is what your assertion comes to when 
you say that the soul existed before she came into the form and 
body of man, and yet that she is composed of elements which did 
not yet exist? Your harmony is not like what you compare it 
to: the lyre and the strings and the sounds, as yet untuned, come 
into existence first; and the harmony is composed last of all, and 
perishes first. How will this belief of yours accord with the other? 

It will not, replied Simmias. 

And yet, said he, an argument about harmony is hardly the 
place for a discord. 

No, indeed, said Simmias. 

Well, there is a discord in your argument, he said. You 
must choose which doctrine you will retain — that knowledge is 
recollection or that the soul is a harmony. 

The former, Socrates, certainly, he replied. The latter has 
never been demonstrated to me; it rests only on probable and 
plausible grounds, which make it a popular opinion. I know 
that doctrines which ground their proofs on probabilities are im- 
postors and that they are very apt to mislead, both in geometry 
and everything else, if one is not on one's guard against them. 
But the doctrine about recollection and knowledge rests upon a 
foundation which claims belief. We agreed that the soul exists 
before she ever enters the body, as surely as the essence itself 
which has the name of real being exists. 12 And I am persuaded 
that I believe in this essence rightly and on sufficient evidence. 
It follows therefore, I suppose, that I cannot allow myself or anyone 
else to say that the soul is a harmony. 

And, consider the question in another way, Simmias, said 
Socrates. Do you think that a harmony or any other composition 
can exist in a state other than the state of the elements of which 
it is composed? 

Certainly not. 

Nor, I suppose, can it do or suffer anything beyond what 
they do and suffer? 
12 Reading o(rri\ aOrfjS (Schanz). 

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He assented. 

A harmony therefore cannot lead the elements of which it is 
composed; it must follow them? 
He agreed. 

And much less can it be moved, or make a sound, or do 
anything else in opposition to its parts. 
Much less, indeed, he replied. 

Well, is not every harmony by nature a harmony according 
as it is adjusted? 

I don't understand you, he replied. 

If it is tuned more, and to a greater extent, he said, sup- 
posing that to be possible, will it not be more a harmony, and 
to a greater extent, while if it is tuned less, and to a smaller 
extent, will it not be less a harmony, and to a smaller extent? 


Well, is this true of the soul? Can one soul be more a soul, 
and to a greater extent, or less a soul, and to a smaller extent, 
than another, even in the smallest degree? 

Certainly not, he replied. 

Well then, he replied, please tell me this; is not one soul 
said to have intelligence and virtue and to be good, while another 
is said to have folly and vice and to be bad? And is it not true? 

Yes, certainly. 

What then will those who assert that the soul is a harmony 
say that the virtue and the vice which are in our souls are? 
Another harmony and another discord? Will they say that the 
good soul is in tune, and that, herself a harmony, she has within 
herself another harmony, and that the bad soul is out of tune 
herself, and has no other harmony within her? 

I, said Simmias, cannot tell. But it is clear that they would 
have to say something of the kind. 

But it has been conceded, he said, that one soul is never more 
or less a soul than another. In other words, we have agreed 
that one harmony is never more, or to a greater extent, or less, 
or to a smaller extent a harmony than another. Is it not so? 

Yes, certainly. 

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And the harmony which is neither more nor less a harmony, 
is not more or less tuned. Is that so? 

And has that which is neither more nor less tuned a greater, 
or a less, or an equal share of harmony? 
An equal share. 

Then, since one soul is never more nor less a soul than 
another, it has not been more or less tuned either? 

Therefore it can have no greater share of harmony or of 

Certainly not. 

And, therefore, can one soul contain more vice or virtue 
than another, if vice be discord and virtue harmony? 
By no means. 

Or rather, Simmias, to speak quite accurately, I suppose that 
there will be no vice in any soul if the soul is a harmony. I 
take it there can never be any discord in a harmony which is a 
perfect harmony. 

Certainly not. 

Neither can a soul, if it be a perfect soul, have any vice in it? 

No; that follows necessarily from what has been said. 

Then the result of this reasoning is that all the souls of 
all living creatures will be equally good if the nature of all souls 
is to be equally souls. 

Yes, I think so, Socrates, he said. 

And do you think that this is true, he asked, and that this 
would have been the fate of our argument, if the hypothesis that 
the soul is a harmony had been correct? 

No, certainly not, he replied. 

Well, said he, of all the parts of a man, should you not say 
that it was the soul, and particularly the wise soul, which rules? 
I should. 

Does she yield to the passions of the body or does she op- 
pose them? I mean this. When the body is hot and thirsty, 
does not the soul drag it away and prevent it from drinking, and 

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when it is hungry does she not prevent it from eating? And do 
we not see her opposing the passions of the body in a thousand 
other ways? 

Yes, certainly. 

But we have also agreed that, if she is a harmony, she can 
never give a sound contrary to the tensions, and relaxations, and 
vibrations, and other changes of the elements of which she is 
composed; that she must follow them, and can never lead them? 

Yes, he replied, we certainly have. 

Well, now, do we not find the soul acting in just the opposite 
way, and leading all the elements of which she is said to consist, 
and opposing them in almost everything all through life; and 
lording it over them in every way, and chastising them, sometimes 
severely, and with a painful discipline, such as gymnastic and 
medicine, and sometimes lightly ; sometimes threatening and some- 
times admonishing the desires and passions and fears, as though 
she were speaking to something other than herself, as Homer 
makes Odysseus do in the Odyssey, where he says that 

He smote upon his breast, and chid his heart: 
"Endure, my heart, e'en worse hast thou endured." 13 

Do you think that when Homer wrote that, he supposed the soul 
to be a harmony and capable of being led by the passions of the 
body, and not of a nature to lead them and be their lord, being 
herself far too divine a thing to be like a harmony? 
Certainly, Socrates, I think not. 

Then, my excellent friend, it is quite wrong to say that the 
soul is a harmony. For then, you see, we should not be in agree- 
ment either with the divine poet Homer or with ourselves. 

That is true, he replied. 

Very good, said Socrates; I think that we have contrived to 
appease our Theban Harmonia with tolerable success. But how 
about Cadmus, Cebes? he said. How shall we appease him, and 
with what reasoning? 

I daresay that you will find out how to do it, said Cebes. At 

13 Homer Odyssey XX. 17. 

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all events you have argued that the soul is not a harmony in a 
way which surprised me very much. When Simmias was stating 
his objection, I wondered how anyone could possibly dispose of 
his argument; and so I was very much surprised to see it fall before 
the very first onset of yours. I should not wonder if the same 
fate awaited the argument of Cadmus. 

My good friend, said Socrates, do not be overconfident, or 
some evil eye will overturn the argument that is to come. How- 
ever, that we will leave to God; let us, like Homer's heroes, 
"advancing boldly," see if there is anything in what you say. 
The sum of what you seek is this. You require me to prove to 
you that the/^ouK^^ndestructible and immortal; for if it be not 
so, you think that the confidence of a philosopher, who is con- 
fident in death, and who believes that when he is dead he will 
fare infinitely better in the other world than if he had lived a 
different sort of life in this world, is a foolish and idle confidence. 
You say that to show that the soul is strong and godKke, and 
that she existed before we were born men, is not enough; for 
that does not necessarily prove her immortality, but only that 
she lasts a long time, and has existed an enormous while, and has 
known and done many things in a previous state. Yet she is not 
any the more immortal for that; her very entrance into man's 
body was, like a (disease, the beginning of her destruction. And, 
you say, she passes this life in misery, and at last perishes in what 
we call death. You think that it makes no difference at all to the 
fears of each one of us, whether she enters the body once or many 
times; for everyone but a fool must fear death, if he does not 
know and cannot prove that she is immortal. That, I think, 
Cebes, is the substance of your objection. I state it again and 
again on purpose, that nothing may escape us, and that you may 
add to it or take away from it anything that you wish. 

Cebes replied: No, that is my meaning. I don't want to 
add or to take away anything at present. 

Socrates paused for some time and thought. Then he said, 
It is not an easy question that you are raising, Cebes. We must 
examine fully the whole subject of the causes of generation and 
decay. If you like, I will give you my own experiences, and if 

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you think that you can make use of anything that I say, you 
may employ it to satisfy your misgivings. 

Indeed, said Cebes, I should like to hear your experiences. 
Listen, then, and I will tell you, Cebes, he replied. When I 
was a young man, I had a passionate desire for the wisdom which 
is called Physical Science. I thought it a splendid thing to know 
the causes of everything; why a thing comes into being, and why 
it perishes, and why it exists. I was always worrying myself 
witri ^snch questions as, Do living creatures take a definite form, 
as some persons say, from the fermentation of heat and cold? Is 
it the blood, or the air, or fire by which we think? Or is it none 
of these, but the brain which gives the senses of hearing and 
sight and smell, and do memory and opinion come from these, 
and knowledge from memory and opinion when in a state of 
quiescence? Again, I used to examine the destruction of these 
things, and the changes of the heaven and the earth, until at last 
I concluded that I was wholly and absolutely unfitted for these 
studies. I will prove that to you conclusively. I was so completely 
blinded by these studies that I forgot what I had formerly seemed 
to myself and to others to know quite well; I unlearned all that 
I had been used to think that I understood; even the cause of 
man's growth. Formerly I had thought it evident on the face 
of it that the cause of growth was eating and drinking, and that, 
when from food flesh is added to flesh, and bone to bone, and in 
the same way to the other parts of the body their proper elements, 
then by degrees the small bulk grows to be large, and so the boy 
becomes a man. Don't you think that my belief was reasonable? 
I do, said Cebes. 

Then here is another experience for you. I used to feel 
no doubt, when I saw a tall man standing by a short one, that 
the tall man was, it might be, a head the taller, or, in the same 
way, that one horse was bigger than another. I was even clearer 
that ten was more than eight by the addition of two, and that a 
thing two cubits long was longer by half its length than a thing 
one cubit long. 

And what do you think now? asked Cebes. 

I think that I am very far from believing that I know the 

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cause of any of these things. Why, when you add one to one, I 
am not sure either that the one to which one is added has become 
two, or that the one added and the one to which it is added become, 
by the addition, two. I cannot understand how, when they are 
brought together, this union, or placing of one by the other, should 
be the cause of their becoming two, whereas, when they were separ- 
ated, each of them was one, and they were not two. Nor, again, 
if you divide one into two, can I convince myself that this division 
is the cause of one becoming two; for then a thing becomes two 
from exactly the opposite cause. In the former case it was because 
two units were brought together, and the one was added to the 
other; while now it is because they are separated, and the one 
divided from the other. Nor, again, can I persuade myself that 
I know how one is generated; in short, this method does not 
show me the cause of the generation or destruction or existence 
of anything. I have in my own mind a confused idea of another 
method, but I cannot admit this one for a moment. 

But one day I listened to a man who said that he was reading 
from a book of Anaxagoras, which affirmed that it is Mind which 
orders and is the cause of all things. I was delighted with this 
theory; it seemed to me to be right that Mind should be the cause 
of all things, and I thought to myself, If this is so, then Mind 
will order and arrange each thing in the best possible way. So 
if we wish to discover the cause of the generation or destruction 
or existence of a thing, we must discover how it is best for that 
thing to exist, or to act, or to be acted on. Man therefore has 
only to consider what is best and fittest for himself, or for other 
things, and then it follows necessarily that he will know what is 
bad; for both are included in the same science. These reflections 
made me very happy: I thought that I had found in Anaxagoras a 
teacher of the cause of existence after my own heart, and I 
expected that he would tell me first whether the earth is flat or 
round, and that he would then go on to explain to me the cause 
and the necessity, and tell me what is best, and that it is best 
for the earth to be of that shape. If he said that the earth was 
in the center of the universe, I thought that he would explain 
that it was best for it to be there; and I was prepared not to 

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require any other kind of cause, if he made this clear to me. 98 
In the same way I was prepared to ask questions about the sun, 
and the moon, and the stars, about their relative speeds, and 
revolutions, and changes; and to hear why it is best for each of 
them to act and be acted on as they are acted on. I never thought 
that, when he said that things are ordered by Mind, he would 
introduce any reason for their being as they are, except that they 
are best so. I thought that he would assign a cause to each thing, 
and a cause to the universe, and then would go on to explain to 
me what was best for each thing, and what was the common good 
of all. I would not have sold my hopes for a great deal: I seized 
the books very eagerly, and read them as fast as I could, in order 
that I might know what is best and what is worse. 

All my splendid hopes were dashed to the ground, my friend, XLVII 
for as I went on reading I found that the writer made no use of 
Mind at all, and that he assigned no causes for the order of things. 
His causes were air, and ether, and water, and many other 
strange things. I thought that he was exactly like a man who 
should begin by saying that Socrates does all that he does by 
Mind, and who, when he tried to give a reason for each of my 
actions, should say, first, that I am sitting here now, because my 
body is composed of bones and muscles, and that the bones are 
hard and separated by joints, while the muscles can be tightened 
and loosened, and, together with the flesh and the skin which 
holds them together, cover the bones; and that therefore, when the 
bones are raised in their sockets, the relaxation and contraction 
of the muscles make it possible for me now to bend my limbs, 
and that that is the cause of my sitting here with my legs bent. 
And in the same way he would go on to explain why I am talking 
to you: he would assign voice, and air, and hearing, and a 
thousand other things as causes; but he would quite forget to 
mention the real cause, which is that since the Athenians thought 
it right to condemn me, I have thought it right and just to sit 
here and to submit to whatever sentence they may think fit to 
impose. For, by the dog of Egypt, I think that these muscles 
and bones would long ago have been in Megara or Boeotia, 99 
prompted by their opinion of what is best, if I had not thought 

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it better and more honorable to submit to whatever penalty the 
state inflicts, rather than escape by flight. But to call these things 
causes is too absurd! If it were said that without bones and 
muscles and the other parts of my body I could not have carried 
my resolutions into effect, that would be true. But to say that they 
are the cause of what I do, and that in this way I am acting by 
Mind, and not from choice of what is best, would be a very 
loose and careless way of talking. It simply means that a man 
cannot distinguish the real cause from that without which the 
cause cannot be the cause, and this it is, I think, which the multi- 
tude, groping about in the dark, speaks of as the cause, giving it 
a name which does not belong to it. And so one man surrounds 
the earth with a vortex, and makes the heavens sustain it. Another 
represents the earth as a flat kneading trough, and supports it 
on a basis of air. But they never think of looking for a power 
which is involved in these things being disposed as it is best for 
them to be, nor do they think that such a power has any divine 
strength. They expect to find an Atlas who is stronger and more 
immortal and abler to hold the world together, and they never for 
a moment imagine that it is the binding force of good which really 
binds and holds things together. I would most gladly learn the 
nature of that kind of cause from any man, but I wholly failed 
either to discover it myself or to learn it from anyone else. How- 
ever, I had a second string to my bow, and perhaps, Cebes, you 
would like me to describe to you how I proceeded in my search 
for the cause. 

I should like to hear very much indeed, he replied. 
XLVIII When I had given up inquiring into real existence, he pro- 
ceeded, I thought that I must take care that I did not suffer as 
people do who look at the sun during an eclipse. For they are 
apt to lose their eyesight, unless they look at the sun's reflection in 
water or some such medium. That danger occurred to me. I 
was afraid that my soul might be completely blinded if I looked 
at things with my eyes, and tried to grasp them with my senses. 
So I thought that I must have recourse to conceptions, 14 and 

11 The conception is the imperfect image in man's mind of the self- 
existing idea, which Plato speaks of in the next chapter. See 74a ff., 
and Republic 507a ff. 

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examine the truth of existence by means of them. Perhaps my 
illustration is not quite accurate. I am scarcely prepared to admit 
that he who examines existence through conceptions is dealing 
with mere reflections, any more than he who examines it as mani- 
fested in sensible objects. However, I began in this way. f 
assumed in each case whatever principle I judged to be strongest; 
and then I held as true whatever seemed to agree with it, whether 
in the case of the cause or of anything else, and as untrue what- 
ever seemed not to agree with it. I should like to explain my 
meaning more clearly; I don't think you understand me yet. 
Indeed I do not very well, said Cebes. 

I mean nothing new, he said; only what I have repeated 
over and over again, both in our conversation today and at other 
times. I am going to try to explain to you the kind of cause at 
which I have worked, and I will go back to what we have so often 
spoken of, and begin with the assumption that there exists an 
absolute beauty, and an absolute good, and an absolute great- 
ness, and so on. If you grant me this, and agree that they exist, 
I hope to be able to show you what my cause is, and to discover 
that th e soul i s immortal. 

You may assume that I grant it you, said Cebes; go on with 
your proof. 

Then do you agree with me in what follows? he asked. It 
appears to me that if anything besides absolute beauty is beautiful, 
it is so simply because it partakes of absolute beauty, and I say 
the same of all phenomena. Do you allow that kind of cause? 

I do, he answered. 

Well then, he said, I do no longer recognize nor can I under- 
stand these other wise causes: if I am told that anything is beauti- 
ful because it has a rich color, or a goodly form, or the like, I 
pay no attention, for such language only confuses me; and in a 
simple and plain, and perhaps a foolish way, I hold to the doctrine 
that the thing is only made beautiful by the presence or communi- 
cation, or whatever you please to call it, of absolute beauty — I 
do not wish to insist on the nature of the communication, but 
what I am sure of is, that it is absolute beauty which makes all 
beautiful things beautiful. This seems to me to be the safest 

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answer that I can give myself or others; I believe that I shall never 
fall if I hold to this; it is a safe answer to make to myself or 
anyone else, that it is absolute beauty which makes beautiful 
things beautiful. Don't you think so? 
I do. 

And it is size that makes large things large, and larger things 
larger, and smallness that makes smaller things smaller? 

And if you were told that one man was taller than another 
by a head, and that the shorter man was shorter by a head, you 
would not accept the statement. You would protest that you say 
only that the greater is greater by size, and that size is the cause 
of its being greater ; and that the less is only less by smallness, and 
that smallness is the cause of its being less. You would be afraid 
to assert that a man is greater or smaller by a head, lest you 
should be met by the retort, first, that the greater is greater, and 
the smaller smaller, by the same thing, and secondly, that the 
greater is greater by a head, which is a small thing, and that 
it is truly marvelous that a small thing should make a man great. 
Should you not be afraid of that? 

Yes, indeed, said Cebes, laughing. 

And you would be afraid to say that ten is more than eight 
by two, and that two is the cause of the excess; you would say 
that ten was more than eight by number, and that number is the 
cause of the excess? And in just the same way you would be 
afraid to say that a thing two cubits long was longer than a thing 
one cubit long by half its length, instead of by size, would you 

Yes, certainly. 

Again, you would be careful not to affirm that, if one is 
added to one, the addition is the cause of two, or, if one is 
divided, that the division is the cause of two? You would protest 
loudly that you know of no way in which a thing can be generated, 
except by participation in its own proper essence; and that you 
can give no cause for the generation of two except participation 
in duality ; and that all things which are to be two must participate 
in duality, while whatever is to be one must participate in unity. 

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You would leave the explanation of these divisions and additions 
and all such subtleties to wiser men than yourself. You would be 
frightened, as the saying is, at your own shadow and ignorance, 
and would hold fast to the safety of our principle, and so give your 
answer. But if anyone should attack the principle itself, you 
would not mind him or answer him until you had considered 
whether the consequences of it are consistent or inconsistent, and 
when you had to give an account of the principle itself, you would 
give it in the same way, by assuming some other principle which 
you think the strongest of the higher ones, and so go on until you 
had reached a satisfactory resting place. You would not mix up 
the first principle and its consequences in your argument, as mere 
disputants do, if you really wish to discover anything of existence. 
Such persons will very likely not spend a single word or thought 
upon that, for they are clever enough to be able to please them- 
selves entirely, though their argument is a chaos. But you, I 
think, if you are a philosopher, will do as I say. 102 

Very true, said Simmias and Cebes together. 

Ech. And they were right, Phaedo. I think the clearness 
of his reasoning, even to the dullest, is quite wonderful. 

Phaedo. Indeed, Echecrates, all who were there thought so too. 

Ech. So do we who were not there, but who are listening to 
your story. But how did the argument proceed after that? 

Phaedo. They had admitted that each of the Ideas exists L 
and that Phenomena take the names of the Ideas as they participate 
in them. Socrates, I think, then went on to ask: 

If you say this, do you not, in saying that Simmias is 
taller than Socrates and shorter than Phaedo, say that Simmias 
possesses both the attribute of tallness and the attribute of 

I do. 

But you admit, he said, that the proposition that Simmias 
is taller than Socrates is not exactly true, as it is stated; Simmias 
is not really taller because he is Simmias, but because of his 
height. Nor again is he taller than Socrates because Socrates is 
Socrates, but because of Socrates' shortness compared with Sim- 
mias' tallness. 

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Nor is Simmias shorter than Phaedo because Phaedo is 
Phaedo, but because of Phaedo's tallness compared with Simmias' 

That is so. 

Then in this way Simmias is called both short and tall, when 
he is between the two; he exceeds the shortness of one by the 
excess of his height, and gives the other a tallness exceeding his 
own shortness. I daresay you think, he said, smiling, that my 
language is like a legal document for precision and formality. 
But I think that it is as I say. 

He agreed. 

I say it because I want you to think as I do. It seems to me 
not only that absolute greatness will never be great and small 
at once, but also that greatness in us never admits smallness, and 
will not be exceeded. One of two things must happen: either the 
greater will give way and fly at the approach of its opposite, the 
less, or it will perish. It will not stand its ground, and receive 
smallness, and be other than it was, just as I stand my ground, 
and receive smallness, and remain the very same small man that 
I was. But greatness cannot endure to be small, being great. 
Just in the same way again smallness in us will never become 
nor be great; nor will any opposite, while it remains what it was, 
become or be at the same time the opposite of what it was. Either 
it goes away or it perishes in the change. 

That is exactly what I think, said Cebes. 

Thereupon someone — I am not sure who — said, 

But surely is not this just the reverse of what we agreed to be 
true earlier in the argument, that the greater is generated from 
the less, and the less from the greater, and, in short, that opposites 
are generated from opposites? 15 But now it seems to be denied 
that this can ever happen. 

Socrates inclined his head to the speaker and listened. Well 
and bravely remarked, he said, but you have not noticed the 
difference between the two propositions. What we said then was 
that a concrete thing is generated from its opposite; what we 
18 70e ff. 

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say now is that the absolute opposite can never become opposite 
to itself, either when it is in us, or when it is in nature. We 
were speaking then of things in which the opposites are, and we 
named them after those opposites; but now we are speaking of 
the opposites themselves, whose inherence gives the things their 
names ; and they, we say, will never be generated from each other. 
At the same time he turned to Cebes and asked, Did his objection 
trouble you at all, Cebes? 

No, replied Cebes; I don't feel that difficulty. But I will 
not deny that many other things trouble me. 

Then we are quite agreed on this point, he said. An opposite 
will never be opposite to itself. 

No never, he replied. 

Now tell me again, he said; do you agree with me in this? 
Are there not things which you call heat and cold? 

Are they the same as snow and fire? 
No, certainly not. 

Heat is different from fire, and cold from snow? 

But I suppose, as we have said, that you do not think that 
snow can ever receive heat, and yet remain what it was, snow 
and hot: it will either retire or perish at the approach of heat. 


And fire, again, will either retire or perish at the approach 
of cold. It will never endure to receive the cold and still remain 
what it was, fire and cold. 

True, he said. 

Then, it is true of some of these things that not only the idea 
itself has a right to its name for all time, but that something else 
too, which is not the idea, but which has the form of the idea 
wherever it exists, shares the name. Perhaps my meaning will 
be clearer by an example. The odd ought always to have the 
name of odd, ought it not? 

Yes, certainly. 

Well, my question is this. Is the odd the only thing with this 
name, or is there something else which is not the same as the odd, 

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but which must always have this name, together with its own, 
because its nature is such that it is never separated from the odd? 
There are many examples of what I mean : let us take one of them, 
the number three, and consider it. Do you not think that we 
must always call it by the name of odd, as well as by its own 
name, although the odd is not the same as the number three? 
Yet the nature of the number three, and of the number five, and 
of half the whole series of numbers, is such that each of them is 
odd, though none of them is the same as the odd. In the same 
way the number two, and the number four, and the whole of 
the other series of numbers, are each of them always even, though 
they are not the same as the even. Do you agree or not? 
Yes, of course, he replied. 

Then see what I want to show you. It is not only opposite 
ideas which appear not to admit their opposites; things also 
which are not opposites, but which always contain opposites, seem 
as if they would not admit the idea which is opposite to the 
idea that they contain: they either perish or retire at its approach. 
Shall we not say that the number three would perish or endure any- 
thing sooner than become even while it remains three? 

Yes, indeed, said Cebes. 

And yet, said he, the number two is not the opposite of 
the number three. 

No, certainly not. 

Then it is not only the ideas which will not endure the ap- 
proach of their opposites; there are some other things besides 
which will not endure such an approach. 
LIII That is quite true, he said. 

Shall we determine, if we can, what is their nature? he asked. 


Will they not be those things, Cebes, which force whatever 
they are in to have always not its own idea only, but the idea 
of some opposite as well? 

What do you mean? 

Only what we were saying just now. You know, I think, that 
whatever the idea of three is in, is bound to be not three only, 
but odd as well. 

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Well, we say that the opposite idea to the form which pro- 
duces this result will never come to that thing. 
Indeed, no. 

But the idea of the odd produces it? 

And the idea of the even is the opposite of the idea of the odd? 

Then the idea of the even will never come to three? 
Certainly not. 

So three has no part in the even? 

Then the number three is uneven? 

So much for the definition which I undertook to give of 
things which are not opposites, and yet do not admit opposites; 
thus we have seen that the number three does not admit the even, 
though it is not the opposite of the even, for it always brings with 
it the opposite of the even; and the number two does not admit 
the odd, r.or fire cold, and so on. Do you agree with me in saying 105 
that not only does the opposite not admit the opposite, but also 
that whatever brings with it an opposite of anything to which it 
goes never admits the opposite of that which it brings? Let me 
recall this to you again ; there is no harm in repetition. Five will 
not admit the idea of the even, nor will the double of five — ten — 
admit the idea of the odd. It is not itself an opposite, 16 yet it 
will not admit the idea of the odd. Again, one and a half, a half, 
and the other numbers of that kind will not admit the idea of the 
whole, nor again will such numbers as a third. Do you follow and 

I follow you and entirely agree with you, he said. 

Now begin again, and answer me, he said. And imitate me; LIV 
do not answer me in the terms of my question: I mean, do not 
give the old safe answer which I have already spoken of, for I see 
another way of safety, which is the result of what we have been 

10 Reading oCnc £vccvt(ov (Schanz). 

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saying. If you ask me, what is that which must be in the body 
to make it hot, I shall not give our old safe and stupid answer, 
and say that it is heat ; I shall make a more refined answer, drawn 
from what we have been saying, and reply, fire. If you ask me, 
what is that which must be in the body to make it sick, I shall not 
say sickness, but fever ; and again to the question what is that 
which must be in number to make it odd, I shall not reply odd- 
ness, but unity, and so on. Do you understand my meaning clearly 

Yes, quite, he said. 

Then, he went on, tell me, what is that which must be in 
a body to make it alive? 
A soul, he replied. 
And is this always so? 
Of course, he said. 

Then the soul always brings life to whatever contains her? 

No doubt, he answered. 

And is there an opposite to life, or not? 


What is it? 

And we have already agreed that the soul cannot ever receive 
the opposite of what she brings? 

Yes, certainly we have, said Cebes. 

Well; what name did we give to that which does not admit 
the idea of the even? 

The uneven, he replied. 

And what do we call that which does not admit justice 
or music? 

The unjust, and the unmusical. 

Good; and what do we call that which does not admit death? 

The immortal, he said. 

And the soul does not admit death? 


Then the soul is immortal? 
It is. 

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Good, he said. Shall we say that this is proved? What do 
you think? 

Yes, Socrates, and very sufficiently. 

Well, Cebes, he said, if the odd had been necessarily imperish- 
able, must not three have been imperishable? 
Of course. 

And if cold had been necessarily imperishable, snow would 
have retired safe and unmelted, whenever warmth was applied 
to it. It would not have perished, and it would not have stayed 
and admitted the heat. 

True, he said. 

In the same way, I suppose, if warmth were imperishable, 
whenever cold attacked fire, the fire would never have been 
extinguished or have perished. It would have gone away in safety. 

Necessarily, he replied. 

And must we not say the same of the immortal? he asked. 
If the immortal is imperishable, the soul cannot perish when 
death comes upon her. It follows from what we have said that 
she will not ever admit death, or be in a state of death, any more 
than three, or the odd itself, will ever be even, or fire, or the heat 
itself which is in fire, cold. But, it may be said, Granted that the 
odd does not become even at the approach of the even; why, 
when the odd has perished, may not the even come into its place? 
We could not contend in reply that it does not perish, for the un- 
even is not imperishable; if we had agreed that the uneven was 
imperishable, we could have easily contended that the odd and 
three go away at the approach of the even; and we could have 
urged the same contention about fire and heat and the rest, 
could we not? 

Yes, certainly. 

And now, if we are agreed that the immortal is imperishable, 
then the soul will be not immortal only, but also imperishable; 
otherwise we shall require another argument. 

Nay, he said, there is no need of that, as far as this point 
goes; for if the immortal, which is eternal, will admit of des- 
truction, what will not? 

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And all men would admit, said Socrates, that God, and the 
essential form of life, and all else that is immortal, never perishes. 

All men, indeed, he said; and, what is more, I think, all 
gods would admit that. 

Then if the immortal is indestructible, must not the soul, 
if it be immortal, be imperishable? 

Certainly, it must. 

Then, it seems, when death attacks a man, his mortal part 
dies, but his immortal part retreats before death, and goes away 
safe and indestructible. 

It seems so. 

Then, Cebes, said he, beyond all question the soul is 
immortal and imperishable, and our souls will indeed exist in the 
other world. 

I, Socrates, he replied, have no more objections to urge; 
your reasoning has quite satisfied me. If Simmias, or anyone 
else, has anything to say, it would be well for him to say it now; 
for I know not to what other season he can defer the discussion 
if he wants to say or to hear anything touching this matter. 

No, indeed, said Simmias; neither have I any further ground 
for doubt after what you have said. Yet I cannot help feeling 
some doubts still in my mind; for the subject of our conversation 
is a vast one, and I distrust the feebleness of man. 

You are right, Simmias, said Socrates, and more than that, 
you must re-examine our original assumptions, however certain 
they seem to you; and when you have analyzed them sufficiently, 
you will, I think, follow the argument, as far as man can follow 
it; and when that becomes clear to you, you will seek for nothing 

That is true, he said, 
j But then, my friends, said he, we must think of this. If it 
||be true that the soul is immortal, we have to take care of her, 
I* not merely on account of the time which we call life, but also on 
| account of all time. Now we can see how terrible is the danger of 
neglect. For if death had been a release from all things, it would 
have been a godsend to the wicked; for when they died they 
would have been released with their souls from the body and 

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from their own wickedness. But now we have found that the 
soul is immortal, and so her only refuge and salvation from evil 
is to become, as perfect and wise as possible. For she takes 
nothing with her to the other world but her education and culture; 
and these, it is said, are of the greatest service or of the greatest 
injury to the dead man at the very beginning of his journey 
thither. For it is said that the genius, who has had charge of 
each man in his life, proceeds to lead him, when he is dead, to 
a certain place where the departed have to assemble and receive J 
judgment and then go to the world below with the guide who / 
is appointed to conduct them thither. And when they have received'' 
their deserts there, and remained the appointed time, another 
guide brings them back again after many long revolutions of 
ages. So this journey is not as Aeschylus describes it in the 
Telephus, where he says that "a simple way leads to Hades." 108 
But I think that the way is neither simple nor single; there would 
have been no need of guides had it been so; for no one could 
miss the way if there were but one path. But this road must 
have many branches and many windings, as I judge from the 
rites of burial on earth. 17 The orderly and wise soul follows her 
leader and is not ignorant of the things of that world; but 
the soul which lusts after the body flutters about the body and 
the visible world for a long time, as I have said, and struggles 
hard and painfully, and at last is forcibly and reluctantly dragged 
away by her appointed genius. And when she comes to the 
place where the other souls are, if she is impure and stained 
with evil, and has been concerned in foul murders, or if she has 
committed any other crimes that are akin to these and the deeds 
of kindred souls, then everyone shuns her and turns aside from 
meeting her, and will neither be her companion nor her guide, 
and she wanders about by herself in extreme distress until a 
certain time is completed, and then she is borne away by force 
to the habitation which befits her. But the soul that has spent 
her life in purity and temperance has the gods for her com- 
panions and guides, and dwells in the place which befits her. 

17 Sacrifices were offered to the gods of the lower world in places where 
three roads met. 

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There are many wonderful places in the earth; and neither its 
nature nor its size is what those who are wont to describe it 
imagine, as a friend has convinced me. 
LVIH What do you mean, Socrates? said Simmias. I have heard 

a great deal about the earth myself, but I have never heard the 
view of which you are convinced. I should like to hear it very much. 

Well, Simmias, I don't think that it needs the skill of Glaucus 
to describe it to you, but I think that it is beyond the skill of 
Glaucus to prove it true. I am sure that I could not do so; and 
besides, Simmias, even if I knew how, I think that my life would 
come to an end before the argument was finished. But there is 
nothing to prevent my describing to you what I believe to be the 
form of the earth and its regions. 

Well, said Simmias, that will do. 

In the first place then, said he, I believe that the earth is 
a spherical body placed in the center of the heavens, and that 
therefore it has no need of air or of any other force to support 
109 it; the equiformity of the heavens in all their parts, and the 
equipoise of the earth itself, are sufficient to hold it up. A thing 
in equipoise placed in the center of what is equiform cannot 
incline in any direction, either more or less; it will remain 
unmoved and in perfect balance. That, said he, is the first thing 
that I believe. 

And rightly, said Simmias. 

Also, he proceeded, I think that the earth is of vast extent, 
and that we who dwell between the Phasis and the pillars of 
Heracles inhabit only a small portion of it, and dwell round the 
sea, like ants or frogs round a marsh; and I believe that many 
other men dwell elsewhere in similar places. For everywhere 
on the earth there are many hollows of every kind of shape and 
size, into which the water and the mist and the air collect; but 
the earth itself lies pure in the purity of the heavens, wherein 
are the stars, and which men who speak of these things commonly 
call ether. The water and the mist and the air, which collect into 
the hollows of the earth, are the sediment of it. Now we dwell 
in these hollows though we think that we are dwelling on the 
surface of the earth. We are just like a man dwelling in the 

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depths of the ocean who thought that he was dwelling on its 
surface and believed that the sea was the heaven, because he 
saw the sun and the stars through the water; but who was too 
weak and slow ever to have reached the water's surface, and to 
have lifted his head from the sea, and come out from his depths 
to our world, and seen, or heard from one who had seen, how 
much purer and fairer our world was than the place wherein he 
dwelt. We are just in that state; we dwell in a hollow of the 
earth, and think that we are dwelling on its surface; and we call 
the air heaven, and think it to be the heaven wherein the stars 
run their courses. But the truth is that we are too weak and 
slow to pass through to the surface of the air. 18 For if any man 
could reach the surface, or take wings and fly upward, he would 
look up and see a world beyond, just as the fishes look forth 
from the sea, and behold our world. And he would know that 
that was the real heaven, and the real light, and the real earth, 110 
if his nature were able to endure the sight. For this earth, and its 
stones, and all its regions have been spoiled and corroded, as 
things in the sea are corroded by the brine: nothing of any worth 
grows in the sea, nor, in short, is there anything therein with- 
out blemish, but, wherever land does exist, there are only caves, 
and sand, and vast tracts of mud and slime, which are not worthy 
even to be compared with the fair things of our world. But 
you would think that the things of that other world still further 
surpass the things of our world. I can tell you a tale, Simmias, 
about what is on the earth that lies beneath the heavens, which 
is worth your hearing. 

Indeed, Socrates, said Simmias, we should like to hear 
your tale very much. 

Well, my friend, he said, this is my tale. In the first place, LIX 
the earth itself, if a man could look at it from above, is like 
one of those balls which are covered with twelve pieces of leather, 
and is marked with various colors, of which the colors that our 
painters use here are, as it were, samples. But there the whole 
earth is covered with them, and with others which are far brighter 
and purer ones than they. For part of it is purple of marvelous 

18 Omitting glvcctT cnBnr6v (Schanz) . 

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beauty, and part of it is golden, and the white of it is whiter 
than chalk or snow. It is made up of the other colors in the 
same way, and also of colors which are more beautiful than any 
that we have ever seen. The very hollows in it, that are filled 
with water and air, have themselves a kind of color, and glisten 
amid the diversity of the others, so that its form appears as one 
unbroken and varied surface. And what grows in this fair earth 
— its trees and flowers and fruit — is more beautiful than what 
grows with us in the same proportion; and so likewise are the 
hills and the stones in their smoothness and transparency and 
color. The pebbles which we prize in this world, our cornelians, 
and jaspers, and emeralds, and the like, are but fragments of them, 
but there all the stones are as our precious stones, and even more 
beautiful still. The reason of this is that they are pure and not 
corroded or spoiled, as ours are, with the decay and brine from 
the sediment that collects in the hollows and brings to the stones 
and the earth and all animals and plants deformity and disease. 

Ill All these things, and with them gold and silver and the like, adorn 
the real earth; and they are conspicuous from their multitude and 
size, and the many places where they are found; so that he who 
could behold it would be a happy man. Many creatures live 
upon it; and there are men, some dwelling inland, and others 
round the air, as we dwell round the sea, and others in islands 
encircled by the air, which lie near the continent. In a word, 
they use the air as we use water and the sea, and the ether as we 
use the air. Th£ temperature of their seasons is such that they 
are free from disease, and live much longer than we do; and 
in sight, and hearing, and smell, and the other senses, they are 
as much more perfect than we, as air is purer than water, and 
ether than air. Moreover, they have sanctuaries arid temples of 
the gods, in which the gods dwell in very truth; they hear the 
voices and oracles of the gods, and see them in visions, and have 
intercourse with them face to face; and they see the sun and 
moon and stars as they really are; and in other matters their 
happiness is of a piece with this. 

LX That is the nature of the earth as a whole, and of what is 

upon it; and everywhere on its globe there are many regions in 

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the hollows, some of them deeper and more open than that in 
which we dwell; and others also deeper, but with narrower 
mouths; and others again shallower and broader than ours. All 
these are connected by many channels beneath the earth, some 
of them narrow and others wide ; and there are passages by which 
much water flows from one of them to another, as into basins, 
and vast and never-failing rivers of both hot and cold water 
beneath the earth, and much fire, and great rivers of fire, and 
many rivers of liquid mud, some clearer and others more turbid, 
like the rivers of mud which precede the lava stream in Sicily, 
and the lava stream itself. These fill each hollow in turn, as 
each stream flows round to it. All of them are moved up and 
down by a certain oscillation which is in the earth and which is 
produced by a natural cause of the following kind. One of 
the chasms in the earth is larger than all the others, and pierces 
right through it, from side to side. Homer describes it in the 
words — 

Far away, where is the deepest depth beneath the earth. 10 

And elsewhere he and many others of the poets have called it 
Tartarus. All the rivers flow into this chasm and out of it 
again; and each of them comes to be like the soil through which 
it flows. The reason why they all flow into and out of the chasm 
is that the liquid has no bottom or base to rest on; it oscillates 
and surges up and down, and the air and wind around it do the 
same, for they accompany it in its passage to the other side of 
the earth, and in its return; and just as in breathing the breath is 
always in process of being exhaled and inhaled, so there the wind, 
oscillating with the water, produces terrible and irresistible blasts 
as it comes in and goes out. When the water retires with a rush 
to what we call the lower parts of the earth, it flows through to 
the regions of those streams and fills them, as if it were pumped 
into them. And again, when it rushes back hither from those 
regions, it fills the streams here again, and then they flow 
through the channels of the earth and make their way to their 

"Iliad VIII. 14. 

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several places, and create seas, and lakes, and rivers, and springs. 
Then they sink once more into the earth, and after making, some 
a long circuit through many regions, and some a shorter one 
through fewer, they fall again into Tartarus, some at a point 
much lower than that at which they rose, and others only a little 
lower; but they all flow in below their point of issue. And some 
of them burst forth again on the side on which they entered; 
others again on the opposite side; and there are some which 
completely encircle the earth, twining round it, like snakes, once 
or perhaps oftener, and then fall again into Tartarus, as low down 
as they can. They can descend as far as the center of the earth 
from either side but no farther. Beyond that point on either 
side they would have to flow uphill. 

LXI These streams are many, and great, and various; but among 

them all are four, of which the greatest and outermost, which 
flows round the whole of the earth, is called Oceanus. Opposite 
Oceanus, and flowing in the reverse direction, is Acheron, which 

113 runs through desert places and then under the earth until it 
reaches the Acherusian lake, whither the souls of the dead generally 
j*o, and after abiding there the appointed time, which for some 
is longer and for others shorter, are sent forth again to be born 
as animals. The third river rises between these two, and near 
its source falls into a vast and fiery region and forms a lake 
larger than our sea, seething with water and mud. Thence it goes 
forth turbid and muddy round the earth, and after many wind- 
ings comes to the end of the Acherusian lake, but it does not 
mingle with the waters of the lake; and after many windings 
more beneath the earth, it falls into the lower part of Tartarus. 
This is the river that men name Pyriphlegethon ; and portions of 
it are discharged in the lava streams, wherever they are found on 
the earth. The fourth river is on the opposite side; it is said to 
fall first into a terrible and savage region, of which the color is 
one dark blue. It is called the Stygian stream, and the lake which 
its waters create is called Styx. After falling into the lake and 
receiving strange powers in its waters, it sinks into the earth, 
and runs winding about in the opposite direction to Pyriphlegethon, 
which it meets in the Acherusian lake from the opposite side. 

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Its waters, too, mingle with no other waters; it flows round in 
a circle and falls into Tartarus opposite to Pyriphlegethon. 
Its name, the poets say, is Cdcytus. 

Such is the nature of these regions; and when the dead LXII 
come to the place whither each is brought by his genius, sen- 
tence is first passed on them according as their lives have been 
good and holy, or not. Those whose lives seem to have been 
neither very good nor very bad go to the river Acheron, and, 
embarking on the vessels which they find there, proceed to the 
lake. There they dwell, and are punished for the crimes which 
they have committed, and are purified and absolved; and for 
their good deeds they are rewarded, each according to his deserts. 
But all who appear to be mc.uxahle from the enormity of their 
sins — those who have commtttrf many and great sacrileges, and 
foul and lawless murders, or other crimes like these — are hurled 
down to Tartarus by the fate which is their due, whence they 
never come forth again. Those who have committed sins which 
are great, but not too great for atonement, such, for instance, 
as those who have used violence toward a father or a mother in 
wrath and then repented of it for the rest of their lives, or who 
have committed homicide in some similar way, have also to 114 
descend into Tartarus; but then when they have been there a 
year, a wave casts them forth, the homicides by Cocytus, and the 
parricides and matricides by Pyriphlegethon; and when they have 
been carried as far as the Acherusian lake they cry out and call 
on those whom they slew or outraged, and beseech and pray that 
they may be allowed to come out into the lake, and be received as 
comrades. And if they prevail, they come out, and their, sufferings 
cease; but if they do not. they are carried back to Tartarrrev and 
thence into the rivers again, and their punishment does not end 
until they have prevailed on those whom they wronged: such is 
the sentence pronounced on them by their judges. But such as 
} have been pre-eminent for holiness in their lives are set free and 
\ released from this world, as from a prison; they ascend to their 
pure habitation and dwell on the earth's surface. And those of 
them who have sufficiently purified themselves with philosophy 
live thenceforth without bodies and proceed to dwellings still 

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fairer than these, which are not easily described, and of which 
I have not time to speak now. 20 But for all these reasons, Simmias, 
we must leave nothing undone, that we may obtain virtue and 
wisdom in this life. Noble is the prize, and great the hope. 

LXIH A man of sense will not insist that these things are exactly 

as I have described them. But I think that he will believe that 
something of the kind is true of the soul and her habitations, 
seeing that she is shown to be immortal, and that it is worth his 
while to stake everything on this belief. The venture is a fair 
one, and he must charm his doubts with spells like these. That 
is why I have been prolonging the fable all this time. For these 
reasons a man should be of good cheer about his soul if in his 
life he has renounced the pleasures and adornments of the body, 
because they were nothing to him, and because he thought that 
they would do him not good but harm; and if he has instead 
earnestly pursued the pleasures of learning, and adorned his soul 
with the adornment of temperance, and justice, and courage, and 
115 freedom, and truth, which belongs to her and is her own, and so 
awaits his journey to the other world, in readiness to set forth 
whenever fate calls him. You, Simmias and Cebes, and the rest 
will set forth at some future day, each at his own time. But me 
now, as a tragic poet would say, fate calls at once; and it is time 
for me to betake myself to the bath. I think that I had better bathe 
1 before I drink the poison, and not give the women the trouble of 
washing my dead body. 

LXIV ' When he had finished speaking Crito said, Be it so, Socrates. 

But have you any commands for your friends or for me about 
your children, or about other things? How shall we serve you 

Simply by doing what I always tell you, Crito. Take care of 
your own selves, and you will serve me and mine and yourselves 
in all that you do, even though you make no promises now. But 
if you are careless of your own selves, and will not follow the 

20 The account of the rewards and punishments of the next world given 
in Republic X. 614b ff., the story of Er the son of Armenius, is worth 
comparing with the preceding passage. 

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path of life which we have pointed out in our discussions both 
today and at other times, all your promises now, however profuse 
and earnest they are, will be of no avail. 

We will do our best, said Crito. But how shall we bury 

As you please, he answered; only you must catch me first 
and not let me escape you. And then he looked at us with a 
smile and said, My friends, I cannot convince Crito that I am 
the Socrates who has been conversing with you and arranging 
his arguments in order. He thinks that I am the body which 
he will presently see a corpse, and he asks how he is to bury me. 
All the arguments which I have used to prove that I shall not 
remain with you after I have drunk the poison, but that I shall 
go away to the happiness of the blessed, with which I tried to 
comfort you and myself, have been thrown away on him. Do 
you therefore be my sureties to him, as he was my surety at the 
trial, but in a different way. He was surety for me then that I 
would remain; but you must be my sureties to him that I shall 
go away when I am dead, and not remain with you; then he 
will feel my death less; and when he sees my body being burned 
or buried, he will not be grieved because he thinks that I am 
suffering dreadful things; and at my funeral he will not say 
that it is Socrates whom he is laying out, or bearing to the grave, 
or burying. For, dear Crito, he continued, you must know that 
to use words wrongly is not only a fault in itself, it also creates 
evil in the soul. You must be of good cheer, and say that you 
are burying my body; and you may bury it as you please and 116 
as you think right. 

With these words he rose and went into another room to LXV 
bathe. Crito went with him and told us to wait. So we waited, 
talking of the argument and discussing it, and then again dwelling 
on the greatness of the calamity which had fallen upon us: it 
seemed as if we were going to lose a father and to be orphans 
for the rest of our life. When he had bathed, and his children 
had been brought to him — he had two sons quite little, and one 
grown up — and the women of his family were come, he spoke 

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with them in Crito's presence, and gave them his last instruc- 
tions; then he sent the women and children away and returned 
to us. By that time it was near the hour of sunset, for he had 
been a long while within. When he came back to us from the 
bath he sat down, but not much was said after that. Presently 
the servant of the Eleven came and stood before him and said, 
"I know that I shall not find you unreasonable like other men, 
Socrates. They are angry with me and curse me when I bid them 
drink the poison because the authorities make me do it. But I 
have found you all along the noblest and gentlest and best man 
that has ever come here; and now I am sure that you will not 
be angry with me, but with those who you know are to blame. 
And so farewell, and try to bear what must be as lightly as you 
can; you know why I have come." With that he turned away 
weeping, and went out. 

Socrates looked up at him and replied, Farewell, I will do 
as you say. Then he turned to us and said, How courteous the 
man is! And the whole time that I have been here, he has 
constantly come in to see me, and sometimes he has talked to me, 
and has been the best of men; and now, how generously he weeps 
for me! Come, Crito, let us obey him; let the poison be brought 
if it is ready, and if it is not ready, let it be prepared. 

Crito replied: But, Socrates, I think that the sun is still upon 
the hills; it has not set. Besides, I know that other men take 
the poison quite late, and eat and drink heartily, and even enjoy 
the company of their chosen friends, after the announcement 
has been made. So do not hurry; there is still time. 

Socrates replied: And those whom you speak of, Crito, 
naturally do so, for they think that they will be gainers by so 
doing. And I naturally shall not do so, for I think that I should 
117 gain nothing by drinking the poison a little later, but my own 
contempt for so greedily saving a life which is already spent. So 
do not refuse to do as I say. 
LXVI Then Crito made a sign to his slave who was standing by; 

and the slave went out, and after some delay returned with the 
man who was to give the poison, carrying it prepared in a cup. 

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When Socrates saw him, he asked, You understand these things, 
my good man, what have I to do? 

You have only to drink this, he replied, and to walk about 
until your legs feel heavy, and then lie down; and it will act of 
itself. With that he handed the cup to Socrates, who took it quite 
cheerfully, Echecrates, without trembling, and without any change 
of color or of feature, and looked up at the man with that fixed 
glance of his, and asked, What say you to making a libation from 
this draught? May I, or not? We only prepare so much as we 
think sufficient, Socrates, he answered. I understand, said Socrates. 
But I suppose that I may, and must, pray to the gods that my 
journey hence may be prosperous. That is my prayer; may it be 
so. With these words he put the cup to his lips and drank the 
poison quite calmly and cheerfully. Till then most of us had been 
able to control our grief fairly well; but when we saw him drink- 
ing and then the poison finished, we could do so no longer: my 
tears came fast in spite of myself, and I covered my face and 
wept for myself; it was not for him, but at my own misfortune 
in losing such a friend. Even before that Crito had been unable 
to restrain his tears, and had gone away; and Apollodorus, who 
had never once ceased weeping the whole time, burst into a loud 
wail and made us one and all break down by his sobbing except 
Socrates himself. What are you doing, my friends? he exclaimed. 
I sent away the women chiefly in order that they might not behave 
in this way; for I have heard that a man should die in silence. 
So calm yourselves and bear up. When we heard that, we were 
ashamed, and we ceased from weeping. But he walked about, 
until he said that his legs were getting heavy, and then he lay down 
on his back, as he was told. And the man who gave the poison 
began to examine his feet and legs from time to time. Then he 
pressed his foot hard and asked if there was any feeling in it, 
and Socrates said, No; and then his legs, and so higher and higher, 
and showed us that he was cold and stiff. And Socrates felt him- 
self and said that when it came to his heart, he should be gone. 
He was already growing cold about the groin, when he uncovered 
his face, which had been covered, and spoke for the last time. 

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Crito, he said, I owe a cock to Asclepius; do not forget to pay 
it. 21 It shall be done, replied Crito. Is there anything else that 
you wish? He made no answer to this question; but after a 
short interval there was a movement, and the man uncovered him, 
and his eyes were fixed. Then Crito closed his mouth and his 

Such was the end, Echecrates, of our friend, a man, I think, 
who was the wisest and justest, and the best man I have ever 

21 These words probably refer to the offering usually made to Asclepiu9 
on recovery from illness. Death is a release from the "fitful fever of life." 
See, for instance 66b fL, 67c. Another explanation is to make the word 
refer to the omission of a trifling religious duty. 

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